Physicians Spend About 16 Minutes on EHRs Per Patient Visit

For each patient visit, physicians spend an average of 16 minutes and 14 seconds using electronic health records (EHRs), a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.

Researchers from the Cerner Corporation examined about 100 million patient visits to 155,000 U.S. doctors. Chart review (33%), documentation (24%), and ordering (17%) accounted for most of the time spent using EHRs on average per patient visit.

The time spent on EHRs also varied by specialty, with gerontologists, endocrinologists, primary care doctors, and internal medicine doctors spending the most time per patient encounter (18 to 22 minutes). Sports medicine doctors and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists spent much less time, at 8 and 10 minutes respectively per visit.

In addition, the study found that 11% of the time spent on EHRs was during the weekend, after 6 p.m., or before 6 a.m.

The study didn’t answer the question of whether this is a good use of time, but given the large number of sites and specialties it examined, it should provide a reliable picture of how much time outpatient physicians are spending on EHRs, according to Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, from the University of California, San Francisco. “It does raise questions that need further investigation about how to make the EHR a better tool,” she said.

Sources: Fierce Healthcare, January 14, 2020; Overhage JM, McCallie D Jr. Physician time spent using the electronic health record during outpatient encounters: a descriptive study. Ann Intern Med. 2020 January 14. [Epub ahead of print]