We all know the advent of the electronic medical record (EMR) is slowing us down. While it’s leading to better care (although the jury is still out on this,) it’s adding one more headache to your over-extended days. The jury is in, however, finding that the EMR is worsening physicians’ quality of life and contributing to physician burnout, something we are in the midst of an epidemic of. A recent study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine supports what other studies have found: physicians spend a greater percentage of time on documentation than they do on direct patient care.

From 6 mouse clicks to order an aspirin to 227
for a discharge summary after an ER visit for abdominal pain, this study found that physicians spent 44% of their time on data entry and only 28% on direct care.  This is 1.5 times as much time on documentation as on patient care.  A scary figure, yet pretty validating for physicians who find themselves overwhelmed.

Why is this important for you to know? Because you are not alone! Many physicians feel like there is something wrong with them personally for not being able to keep up with documentation, that sense of always running behind. As time pressures increase, physicians are more and more isolated from one another, so there’s less and less opportunity to, shall we say, “compare notes.” In addition, it’s always better to have validation that a problem you’re experiencing is real and external, not in your head or due to a state of deficiency on your part.

We can’t change the fact that the EMR is here to stay. Once you know what you’re up against, though, you’re less likely to let it weigh you down psychologically. It’s a small thing but, with physician burnout so rampant, EVERY small amount of weight you can shed contributes to your ability to survive.