Stanford’s Lloyd Minor: EHRs need a ‘major revamp’ to solve physician burnout

Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge
The dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine says today's search engines are a better diagnostic tool than EHRs.

The dean of Stanford University’s School of Medicine has joined a growing chorus of leaders laying most of the blame for physician burnout on the unmet promise of EHRs, and he’s calling on doctors to help overhaul those systems some have grown to detest.

Highlighting the “realities of modern medical practice” that are driving practicing physicians away and dashing the altruistic goals of medical students, Lloyd Minor, M.D., who oversees one of the nation’s premiere academic medical centers, says EHRs need a design overhaul to reduce the burden on physicians.

“Today’s search engines are better at helping doctors diagnose disease than our EMRs,” Minor wrote in an op-ed for Quartz.

RELATED: UCSF CMIO says physician burnout predated EHRs

A recent survey published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates EHRs are a major driver behind physician burnout, echoing longstanding concerns that the technology was built to be a billing platform rather than facilitate patient care.

The chief medical information officer at the University of San Francisco Medical Center recently said physician burnout predates EHRs, but that the new systems “made a bad situation horribly worse.” Federal health officials have acknowledged the negative impact of EHRs in healthcare and a major effort is underway at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to make those systems more usable.  

RELATED: ONC prepares for its biggest challenge yet: EHR interoperability and usability

Meanwhile, Stanford is leading the charge when it comes to integrating new digital health technology and using data to drive precision medicine efforts. Minor sees tremendous promise in those technologies and the role they play in improving patient care and physician job satisfaction. But he views an EHR overhaul as a national priority and he wants to see more involvement from doctors to develop new systems that integrate technology like voice recognition to simplify the physician’s job rather than make it more difficult.

“Our smart phones and devices already have this technology—why can’t it also be applied to EMRs to help free physicians from the keyboard?”