How EHRs, quality reporting feed into physician burnout

Doctors' frustration with electronic health records and clinical quality reporting can play a role in physician burnout, Steve Stack, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, tells

"Doctors will get behind things that support better quality of care and support them in their clinical practice. It's the nonsensical stuff that makes it infuriating and challenging," he says.

Providers can feel overworked and unsupported when federal mandates add to the stress of their already busy lives, leaving them working nights and weekends. Stack adds that many aspects of EHRs are frustrating--they are inefficient, they're often not interoperable with other systems and they go down and paralyze the healthcare systems that depend on them.

A recent study found that physicians spend more than an hour a day dealing with the notifications they receive from their EHRs. In addition, medical interns spent as much as seven hours a day on EHRs and clocked an additional five hours a day on them even after they got used to the systems, according to a small study published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education.

The AMA is working to ensure that physician voices are better heard in the design of EHRs and in federal quality reporting and reimbursement requirements, Stack says. 

The situation for doctors participating in the Meaningful Use program may soon get more complicated. Docs in the Medicaid program and hospitals will remain in the MU program, which many have called outdated and overly burdensome; the Medicare doctors will move to theMerit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). The question is whether the two programs will be aligned.

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