Some may call it the future of health care, but many doctors are calling it a pain in the…..well, let’s just say not everyone loves electronic health records (EHR). The Mayo Clinic just released a report that suggests EHR’s are taking a toll on physicians.
Doctors say they’re drowning in electronic paperwork, feeling burned out and dissatisfied with their jobs thanks to countless hours spent filling out computerized medical forms, researchers report.
Electronic health records are a cornerstone in the effort to modernize medicine. But, new systems designed to chart a patient’s progress and instruct their future care have proven to be very time-consuming, the study found.
Science Daily quoted Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Mayo Clinic physician and lead author of the study, as saying, “Electronic health records hold great promise for enhancing coordination of care and improving quality of care. In their current form and implementation, however, they have had a number of unintended negative consequences including reducing efficiency, increasing clerical burden and increasing the risk of burnout for physicians.”
The survey of more than 6,300 active physicians found self-reported burnout among:
- About 57 percent of doctors using electronic health records, which serve as a computerized version of a patient’s medical history. Only 44 percent of those who didn’t use electronic health records feared burnout.
- Between 56 percent and 59 percent of doctors who use computerized physician order entry (CPOE), an electronic system doctors use to share instructions for patient care. Only 45 percent of doctors not using CPOE suffered from burnout.
The doctors also were more likely to be dissatisfied with their daily amount of clerical work if they used electronic records, the survey revealed.
While the study’s authors believe burnout can lead to “decreased quality of care and medical errors, as well as an increase in the likelihood physicians will cut back their work hours or leave the profession,” not everyone is buying that burnout is the result of EHR’s.
According to Fox News Health, “electronic health records and digital tools aren’t necessarily the cause of the burnout, said Dr. Ted E. Palen of the Colorado Permanente Medical Group in Denver, who was not part of the new study.
“In my experience (they make) you more productive, and you’re doing more patient care in the sense that you’re managing more patients at one time because productivity increases,” Palen said.
Let us know what you think about the new study and about the use of electronic health records. Are they the future of health care? If so, how can we make sure patients and doctors are both getting what they need? Generating these types of health-related discussions are crucial to our long-term goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!