Are doctors destined for a life of data entry?

Increasingly, many doctors feel that their relationship with patients has been compromised because of excessive documentation and data entry. Demanding policy requirements and the paradigm shift to value-based care conspire to add to physician’s workloads outside of the patient visit, limiting their ability to focus on delivering care.

Research supports the claim that activities outside of patient interactions are commanding an increasing amount of physician attention. It is now routine for physicians to perform 4000 clicks daily¹ and end up spending 40% of their time face-to-face with a computer and only 12% with their patients.²

For a lot of physicians, this is nothing new. Data entry has become the physician’s responsibility. Even with scribes or transcriptionists, physicians are responsible for ensuring accuracy and completion in order to avoid inaccuracies.

But how do practitioners manage the responsibility to accurately document their visit with the responsibility to provide patient-centered care?

Maybe it starts with how we document – not just how often we document.

We have always, and will continue to need documentation. Clinical documentation helps us coordinate care, keep track of our patients, minimize costly errors, and improve patient outcomes. But it’s this same critical responsibility that causes so much tension for physicians. Side effects include inefficiency, counter-intuitiveness, and less time with the patient.

That’s why we need documentation technology that is user friendly and makes life quicker and more efficient. Whether it’s something as simple as automated data entry to reduce re-entering information or a reimagined workflow that lets users document, e-prescribe and write referrals from the same screen, technology should be working for its user, first and foremost.

Ultimately, it’s up to EMRs and IT systems to design thoughtful tools and put themselves in the shoes of physicians. Technology that is faster and more seamless can ease the burden of data entry for physicians and bring physicians back to where they belong.

If technology enabled physicians to focus 100% on delivering great care to their patients, patient focus could perhaps go hand-in-hand with data entry.

At Elation, we believe that efforts should be made to create technology that empowers physicians to build stronger relationships with their patients. We want to eliminate the term ‘data entry’ from our physician’s vocabulary, and replace it with ‘providing care.’ For us, the EMR enables providers to focus on their patients and deliver phenomenal care.

Sources:
[1] Hill RG, Sears LM, Melanson SW. 4000 clicks: A productivity analysis of electronic medical records in a community hospital ED. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2013;31(11):1591–1594.
[2] Block L, Habicht R, Wu AW, et al. In the wake of the 2003 and 2011 duty hours regulations, how do internal medicine interns spend their time? Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2013;28(8):1042–1047.