(HealthDay News) — Use of electronic medical record (EMR) systems is associated with considerable loss of free time per clinic day, according to a research letter published online September 8 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Clement J. McDonald, MD, from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, and colleagues surveyed the American College of Physicians’ national sample of internists to examine the extent of EMR-associated time loss. Data were obtained from 411 respondents (mainly attending physicians).

The researchers found that 61 distinct EMR systems were used, and nine were used by 20 or more responders. These nine EMRs accounted for 78.8% of all users, and users of each system reported free time loss (P<0.05). The least free time was lost with use of the Veterans Affairs’ Computer Patient Record System (20 minutes; P=0.04). Most respondents reported that at least one data management function was slower post-EMR adoption (89.9%) and that note writing took longer (63.9%). Attending physicians reported a mean time loss of 48 minutes per day (P<0.001), while trainees reported a mean time loss of 18 minutes. For all respondents who lost time (59.4%), the mean loss was 78 minutes per clinic day.

“The loss of free time that our respondents reported was large and pervasive and could decrease access or increase costs of care,” the authors write.

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