Could the music from video games such as Super Mario Bros. and StarCraft offer relief to physicians who spend seemingly endless hours documenting patient care at a computer?
It just might, writes Greg A. Hood, M.D., an internist from Lexington, Kentucky, on Medscape. Hood says he finds music works best for him to maintain focus while he grinds through hours in front of the computer screen making entries into the electronic health record (EHR)—a major stress factor that can lead to physician burnout.
"Studies have validated that listening to music does indeed provide measurable benefits in productivity," Hood writes. That led to the question of what kind of music might work best, and Hood says the answer may surprise many people. A number of reports suggest that video game music may actually be the best to foster productivity, which makes sense since the music is designed to help players lose themselves in the game.
"Designers of video games are invested in promoting and continuing game play, and even in promoting problem-solving abilities (a good virtue for clinicians to have). This method can work when the music is applied to other objectives, such as documentation completion," he writes.
A study released last fall found that for every hour physicians spend in exam room visits with patients, they spend nearly two hours on EHR and desk work during office hours. Physicians who used documentation support, such as dictation or a documentation assistant, engaged in more face time with patients than those who did not.
Susan Hingle, a professor of internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, notes in an opinion piece that accompanied the study that previous research found decreased physician satisfaction and increased cases of burnout among physicians who use EHRs and computerized physician order entry systems.