Computerized records were supposed to streamline the medical world. The reality may be just the opposite. When doctors are spending more time clicking through forms than seeing patients, there may be enough consequences to go around.
Physicians spend one to two hours managing computer records for each hour they spend with a patient. This highly structured form of notetaking isn’t likely going to help you get the care you need, rather it could put you directly in jeopardy.
Hospitals and practices are relying more and more on electronic health records (EHR) to track your information on the heels of federal legislation that put up $27 billion in incentives to promote adoption. The changes were supposed to help keep tabs on ongoing medical issues in a more efficient manner, but the systems don’t seem to be living up to expectations.
It hasn’t seemed to help patient care, according to Edward R. Melnick, director of the Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Yale, who conducted a study on the complexity of medical tracking software.
The data does little to aid your care, said Melnick. Instead, it’s primary focus is usually more accurate billing. And the complexity of the systems means additional work for doctors, instead of removing it. This is, in turn, contributing to many physicians experiencing burnout.
Burning both ends
43.9% of doctors report symptoms of burnout, and those that revealed they were having trouble using EHRs were often those that reported adverse health consequences. Physicians that are suffering may be more likely to come up short while you’re under their care:
- Impaired capacity to pay attention
- Inability to create memories and recall
- Loss of coordination and control
These can all be dire when your health is on the line. Misdiagnoses, medication mistakes and surgical errors could all result from a doctor that is in the midst of burnout.