Study: EHR use leads to loss of time

As hospitals increasingly use electronic health records, they may also be increasingly losing time during the day to the technology, according to a new study.

The study, the findings of which were published in a research letter at JAMA Internal Medicine, says family practice physicians reported a loss of 48 minutes of free time per clinic day (the number is a mean time calculated by the study authors) because of EHRs.

The study was conducted through a 19-question survey mailed to members of the American College of Physicians and nonmember internists in December 2012. Of that, they received usable responses from 411 people, with 61 different EHR systems being used.

Close to 90 percent of respondents said that at least one data management function was slower after adoption of EHRs, according to the study's authors. However, the study did not indicate how long the respondents were working at the facilities before the EHR system was adopted to compare time differences between the electronic system and traditional record systems.

The study also found that 33.9 percent of respondents saw more time spent on finding and reviewing medical record data with the EHR than without it.

The authors suggested that practices may benefit from the use of scribes, standing orders and talking instead of email to save time.

However, the jury is still out on whether using scribes to input data for doctors is the best way to resolve electronic health record workflow issues, according to a March report at Medscape.

In addition, doctors remain divided on their views of EHRs.

The authors said the study showed that trainees only lost 18 minutes a day, but could not pinpoint why.

"We can only speculate as to whether better computer skills, shorter [half-day] clinical assignments ... or other factors account for the trainees' smaller per-day time loss," the author's said. This makes it unclear whether the comfort level with EHRs and computer skills of all the respondents were addressed in the study.

To learn more:
- here's the study