A new study on how much time docs spend using their EHRs released its findings last month. Medscape broke it down and you can read the whole thing here if you want.
The article says EHR time exceeds patient face time in family practice visits. The study results imply that, “US [family physicians] spend more time working in the EHR than their European counterparts spend in the entire visit.”
This could very well be true for a whole lot of reasons. But we see things from another perspective. We think physicians in America are doing what they have to do in order to provide the best care possible for their patients. They’re required to document certain things a certain way, for certain (sometimes inexplicable) reasons. Sure, they could document all the things right there in the exam room with the patient. They could spend a majority of the visit staying caught up for fear of what falling behind will do to their evening (again).
But most of them don’t.
They know they only have a few sacred minutes to serve their patient well, and they want to make the most of it. So they’ll sacrifice their evening (yes, again) just so they can look their patient in the eye. Take time they don’t have to ask some quality questions and do what med school taught them.
It’s not their fault. They’re doing their best with what they have, which is limited time and a lot of mandatory paperwork. The system is broken and docs are among the victims.
These types of articles are full of numbers, and it’s good someone’s keeping track. At the end of the day, though, the results of this study give us renewed hope that more docs will opt for Direct Care instead of letting burnout get the best of them. The heart wants what the heart wants… and it’s not paperwork.