Do Electronic Health Records Present Increased Burden on Ophthalmologists?

The researcher found that 27% of an average-length patient encounter is spent on electronic health record use
The researcher found that 27% of an average-length patient encounter is spent on electronic health record use

HealthDay News — A substantial portion of the time that ophthalmologists spend with patients is spent on electronic health record (EHR) use, according to a study published online October 12 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Sarah Read-Brown, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues used medical record time stamps and an EHR audit to examine 27 ophthalmologists' time spent on EHR use at a single center (September 1, 2013, through December. 31, 2016). In addition, manual time-motion observation was used to measure the length of time spent directly with patients on EHR use, conversation, and examination. 

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The researchers found that the mean total ophthalmologist examination time was 11.2 minutes per patient, of which 27% was spent on EHR use, 42% on conversation, and 31% on examination. Per encounter, the mean total ophthalmologist time spent using the EHR was 10.8 minutes (range, 5.8 to 28.6 minutes). There was a positive association between EHR use and billing level and a negative association between EHR use per encounter and clinic volume in a mixed-effects model. For ophthalmologists with high mean billing levels, each additional encounter per clinic was associated with a decrease of 1.7 minutes (95% confidence interval, -4.3 to 1) of EHR use time per encounter (P=0.01).

"Ophthalmologists have limited time with patients during office visits, and EHR use requires a substantial portion of that time. There is variability in EHR use patterns among ophthalmologists," conclude the authors.

One author disclosed financial ties to Novartis.

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