The newly published study reviewed approximately 100 million patient encounters with 155,000 U.S. physicians from 417 health systems. It calculated data on how doctors spent their time on various tasks with electronic health records throughout 2018.
» RELATED: Study links too much screen time to changes in young kids' brains
“Chart review, documentation, ordering, etc. are all tasks that physicians have done for a very long time,” study co-author Dr. J. Marc Overhage told Reuters.
“EHRs have made some of that work much easier,” said Overhage, who conducted the study for Cerner Corporation. The company developed the EHR used in the study.
Forbes, which also reported on the study, emphasized it only accounted for the times doctors were actively scrolling or typing rather than simply being logged in to access patients' records. Noting the study doesn't specify what activities were done when ordering or reviewing patient documentation, Forbes reported it also only breaks down the quantity of time spent on the EHR rather than the quality.
» RELATED: EHRs In The ER: As Doctors Adapt, Concerns Emerge About Medical Errors
“We don’t know how much of the time is spent in valuable ways — doing more comprehensive documentation to create a more complete patient record, responding to alerts that reminded the physician to do something they might have otherwise forgotten, etc.,” Julia Adler-Milstein of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, told Reuters.
She added that patients “should feel empowered to speak up” if they believe their physician overlooked something.
"It is, of course, important to maximize the efficiency with which physicians can care for patients," Overhage said according to Healios, a clinical information website for medical specialists. "The health care system also needs to be thoughtful about the tasks we ask physicians to do and which tasks other members of the care team, including the patient, can perform as well or better in order to free physicians to focus on their unique contributions."