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Are Electronic Medical Records Effective?

The use of electronic medical records in hospitals is increasing, but doctors are finding that they may be losing time throughout the day because of the...

Admin
|Sep 13|magazine5 min read

The use of electronic medical records in hospitals is increasing, but doctors are finding that they may be losing time throughout the day because of them.

According to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, family practice physicians reported a loss of 48 minutes of free time per clinic day because of electronic medical records.

In collaboration with the American College of Physicians, the study was conducted through a 19-question survey mailed to members of the college and nonmember internists in December of 2012. Of those participants, study authors received usable responses from 411 individuals with 61 different electronic medical record systems reported being used.

Almost 90 percent of respondents said that at least one data management function was slower after the adoption of electronic medical records. However, time differences between the electronic system and traditional record systems could not be compared due to a lack of information in the study on how long the respondents were working at the facilities before the electronic medical records were implemented.

Approximately 34 percent of respondents saw more time spent on finding and reviewing medical record data with the electronic record as opposed to without it, the study found.

Trainees in medical practices showed only a loss of 18 minutes per day, the study noted, but no reason as to why was derived.

“We can only speculate as to whether better computer skills, shorter [half-day] clinical assignments … or other factors account for the trainees’ smaller per-day time loss,” the study authors said.

Physicians continue to remain divided on the use of electronic medical record technology, but the study authors suggested that medical professionals may benefit from the use of scribes, standing orders and talking instead of email to save time.