Emergency department doctors spend substantially more time entering data into EMRs than they do interacting with patients, according to an American Journal of Emergency Medicine study reported by FierceEMR.
According to FierceEMR, the study found that the average percentage of time ED docs spend on data entry was 43 percent. During a 10-hour shift, researchers concluded, total mouse clicks neared 4,000.
In contrast, the amount of time emergency department doctors spent interacting directly with patients during the AJEM study was 28 percent, the researchers found. Meanwhile, reviewing tests and records accounted for an average of 12 percent of the doctors’ time, and talking to colleagues consumed 13 percent.
It’s hardly surprising that doctors would rack up nearly 4,000 clicks during a shift. Mouse clicks for common charting functions and patient encounters range from a low of six clicks for ordering an aspirin to a high of 227 for completing a record for patients with abdominal pain through the point of discharge, according to an article in Medscape Medical News cited by FierceEMR.
These results are consistent with those of a similar study published earlier this year in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, iHealthBeat reports. According to iHealthBeat‘s story, researchers who observed 29 medical interns at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the University of Maryland Medical College found that the interns spent 40 percent of their time on computer related tasks, and 12 percent of the time talking with and examining patients.
Such reliance on EMRs in the ED may have some benefits, but there are also risks involved, according to a recent study appearing in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. According to the study, the design of EMRs for emergency departments varies widely, with some having problems which can compromise clinician workflow, communication and ultimately, quality and safety of care.
The Annals research suggests that hospitals ought to be auditing the performance of their EDISs regularly, given how central these tools are to emergency medicine these days. If doctors are going to click nearly 4,000 times during a single shift, it’s best if the EDIS in question doesn’t foster communication failures, alert fatigue or wrong order/wrong patient mistakes, all problems which emerge when the EDIS doesn’t function well, researchers concluded.