(HealthDay News) — Physicians spend a considerable amount of time using electronic health records (EHRs) to support care delivery, with wide variation seen in the distribution of time within specialty, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In a study involving about 155,000 US physicians from 417 health systems, J. Marc Overhage, MD, PhD, and David McCallie Jr., MD, from the Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, examined how much time ambulatory medical subspecialists and primary care physicians across US care delivery systems spend on various EHR functions. Data were obtained from the Lights On Network during 2018, which totaled the time spent on 13 clinically focused EHR functions.

Data were included from about 100 million patient encounters. The researchers found that per encounter, physicians spent an average of 16 minutes and 14 seconds using EHRs, with chart review, documentation, and ordering functions accounting for most of the time (33, 24, and 17%, respectively). Within specialty, there was considerable variation in the distribution of time spent by providers using EHRs. Across specialties, the proportion of time spent on various clinically focused functions was similar.

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“The wide variability in the time providers within specialties spend using the EHR to care for patients is an important finding and warrants further investigation,” the authors write.

Both authors disclosed financial ties to the Cerner Corporation.


Overhage JM, McCallie Jr. D. Physician Time Spent Using the Electronic Health Record During Outpatient Encounters: A Descriptive Study. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M18-3684

Adler-Milstein J. Electronic Health Record Time Among Outpatient Physicians: Reflections on the Who, What, and Why. Ann Intern Med.

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