Do Doctors spend more time with their EMR than they do with their patients?
Updated: Apr 24
Forbes magazine recently published an articled that reviewed a study on physician EMR / EHR time compared to patient appointment times. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study "found that on average a physician spent 16 minutes and 14 seconds using the EHR for each patient that he or she saw." When compared to the average patient visit of 15 minutes, this starts to raise the question of whether EMRs are helping or hindering.
"The analysis found that physicians on average had spend 16 minutes and 14 seconds of active time on the EHR per patient encounter. ...this was time that they were actively moving around the mouse and typing on the keyboard and not just logged on to the patient’s medical record. The tasks that constituted a majority of the active time fell into three categories: “chart review,” (which was 33% of the time), “documentation” (24%), and “ordering” (17%)."
Given the ever shortening window of time that physicians have per patient their EMR processes, such as ordering tests, need to be fast and efficient. Extra clicks, time wasted uploading files or exporting results, or copying form text over and over, just doesn't work. Information needs to be fast, readily available and process efficient. EMRs were designed to; "eliminates the need to track down a patient's previous paper medical records and assists in ensuring data is accurate and legible." (2) To get away from those days of paper records, Doctors should be spending just a few minutes with their EMR so they can focus on the patient. This is where tools like voice dictation or automatic patient result sorting need to be built into the EMR to help speed these processes up. Technology should be improving efficiency and not making it worse.
"EHR time usually is uncompensated time for physicians. Doctors get paid for doing procedures or for time with patients."
The impact of having an inefficient EMR is a loss in revenue. If the EHR is taking up more time than patient visit this cuts into the ability for the physician to see more patients. Less patients means less revenue. The workflows of the EMR need to compliment the workflow of the doctor. Minimized clicks, auto-loaded content, and automated patient reminders are just a few ways that workflows can be tailored to the doctor. If workflows are efficient, the doctor can be efficient and then the doctor can choose to maximize their time with revenue driving activities vs process driven activities in their EMR.
As both doctors, and the developers of Arya EHR, we are keenly astute to the need for a fast and efficient software solution for physicians. We understand the importance of both being process efficient and revenue efficient in every patient visit. Arya minimizes workflows to increase efficiency. Expedited EMR work creates opportunities for more patient visits. And more patient visits means more revenue. (Note: Arya users have reported that they can see 5-10 extra patients per day using our EMR over some of our competitors.)
When we review the time it takes physicians to complete simple tasks in other EHRs we are shocked to see how long the processes take. So we have strived for simplicity and speed through all of our processes on the platform. Our goal is to give back time to the physician so they can be productive and dedicate their time and energy to their patients.