Healthcare IT Information Physician Compensation Quality Supply of Medical Services

Physician time spent on direct patient interaction, or: How I learned to stop talking to patients and start loving EHRs

Although this study about 18 months old, I just came across this and the findings were really surprising.

During the office day, physicians spent 27.0% of their total time on direct clinical face time with patients and 49.2% of their time on EHR and desk work. While in the examination room with patients, physicians spent 52.9% of the time on direct clinical face time and 37.0% on EHR and desk work. The 21 physicians who completed after-hours diaries reported 1 to 2 hours of after-hours work each night, devoted mostly to EHR tasks.

On the one hand, decreasing physician interaction with patients is problematic as this is physicians comparative advantage.  That the same time EHR work should not be seen as complete deadweight loss.  Physicians take in information and make treatment decisions based on this information.  Thus, spending time collecting, updating, and reviewing EHR data, can be productive use of time.  However, it is surprising that physicians spend more time on EHR and desk work than patient interactions.  This trend likely reduces physician job satisfaction and may decrease the quality of candidates who begin to pursue medical degrees in the future.  The effect quality of patient care, however, is a complex question that is still being sorted out.


  1. During the last year, almost nine out of ten physicians used an EHR – not necessarily a system, but at least organised digital data. The workflow of providers with an EHR has become more efficient thanks to tools such as alerts and reminders. The system identifies required lab tests and warns personnel about critical lab values, errors, or preventive care necessities.

    All parties benefit from direct communication, which leads to enhanced overall patient care because patients stand as active collaborators in their own health care management. Permanent access to patient data allows doctors to obtain benefits critical for business.

    1. Easy access to patient data
    Not only will different doctors have access to the patient’s data, but different clinics. All the information about a person’s diagnosis, health indexes, allergies, and previous treatment are stored in one place. This fact enables medics to diagnose more precisely and cure in the right way, which leads to faster recovery. This data is also used for education by first-year doctors, who spend 43% of their time interacting with EHR.

    2. Coordinated care
    Advanced technologies enable team-based care, where primary care physicians, specialists, nurses, and technicians work together in the best interest of the particular patient. All team members have permanent access to the patient’s health data, which positively influences the entire cure process. Moreover, different healthcare institutions can access EHR system data, so the likelihood of double tests or procedures taking place is slim.

    3. Costs saving

    According to the statistics provided by Ponemon Institute, US hospitals lose a total of $8.3 billion annually due to inefficient communications between doctors and patients – EHR can partially reduce these losses. Precise data decreases misunderstandings and helps doctors to determine the correct treatment, avoiding unnecessary prescriptions. Moreover, electronic healthcare record system s automate several time-consuming, paper-driven and labour-intensive tasks, so that employees perform more work in comparison to medical staff who process data manually.

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