GPs spend more than half of each workday typing into computers and completing other tasks in electronic health records, according to a new US study, adding to workloads and taking time away from patient care.

Using IT event logs and direct observation data, researchers found that during a typical 11.4-hour workday GPs spent almost six hours on data entry and other tasks within EHR systems.

“This study reveals what many primary care physicians already know – data entry tasks associated with EHR systems are significantly cutting into available time for physicians to engage with patients,” American Medical Association President Dr David O. Barbe said of the research conducted by the doctors’ association and the University of Wisconsin.

Barbe blames poorly designed and implemented EHRs for a growing sense among general practitioners they are neglecting their patients as they try to keep up with an overload of type-and-click tasks.

Doctor burnout rates are at more than 50 per cent, according to Barbe, and an overhaul of EHR systems is needed to address the lack of actionable data for patient care, convoluted workflows that take time away from patients, and long hours added to difficult clinical days to complete reporting and documentation requirements.

The US AMA said it recognised many changes could only be implemented in the long-term due to vendor product development lifecycles, limitations of current legacy systems and existing contracts, regulations and institutional policies.

“However, there is a great sense of urgency to improve EHRs because every patient encounter and the physician’s ability to provide high-quality care is affected by the current state of usability,” the association said in a call to action.





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