AMA demands EHR overhaul, calls them 'poorly designed and implemented'

Latest study confirms typing and clicking consume more than half the workday for doctors.
By Bernie Monegain
09:42 AM
AMA demands EHR overhaul

Primary care physicians spend more than half of their workday typing data on a computer screen and completing other EHR tasks, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin and the American Medical Association.

Researchers gleaned their findings from EHR event logs. Confirmed by direct observation data, they found that during a typical 11.4-hour workday, primary care physicians spent nearly six hours on data entry and other tasks with EHR systems. The study was published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

[Also: Doctors loathe their EHRs, right? Not these physicians]

“This study reveals what many primary care physicians already know – data entry tasks associated with EHR systems are significantly cutting into available time for physicians to engage with patients,” AMA President David O. Barbe, MD, a family physician from Mountain Grove, Missouri, said in a statement.

Barbe blames poorly designed and poorly implemented EHRs for the growing sense among physicians that they are neglecting their patients as they try to keep up with an overload of type-and-click tasks.

Doctor burnout rates are at more than 50 percent, according to Barbe.

An overhaul of EHR systems is needed to address the lack of actionable data for patient care; convoluted workflows that take time away from patients; and long hours added to difficult clinical days just to complete quality reporting and documentation requirements.

The AMA is calling for the implementation of eight priorities for improving EHR usability, calling for a reframing the design and configuration of EHR technology to emphasize the following priorities:

  • Enhance physicians' ability to provide high-quality patient care
  • Support team-based care
  • Promote care coordination
  • Offer product modularity and reconfigurability
  • Reduce cognitive workload
  • Promote data liquidity 
  • Facilitate digital and mobile patient engagement
  • Expedite user input into product design and post-implementation feedback

The AMA said it recognizes that many of the recommendations can only be implemented in the long-term due to vendor product development life-cycles, limitations of current legacy systems and existing contracts, regulations and institutional policies.

“However, there is a great sense of urgency to improve EHRs because every patient encounter and the physician’s ability to provide high-quality care is affected by the current state of usability,” AMA writes in its call for action.

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