Proponents for the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in the medical field have long argued that the use of such systems would considerably reduce the time doctors spend on administrative tasks. However, a recent survey shows that this might not be the case always. In fact, in some cases, even the reverse might be true.
Percentage of Time Spent on Administrative Work
A team of researchers from the Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York have been conducting a study on the implementation and the subsequent benefits of electronic health records in hospitals. Recently, they published their report in International Journal of Health Services. The researchers drew upon the data compiled during the 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey. The survey sample consisted of 4,720 physicians clocking in a minimum of 20 hours of practice a week.
The data from this survey showed that on average, a doctor spent about 8.7 hours per week on administrative work. This amounts to 16.6 percent of their total working time. However, the figure for doctors using electronic health records was a bit higher at 17.2 percent. And, those, who were using both paper and EHR systems spent even more, at 18 percent. However, the data showed that doctors using only paper records spent only 15.5 percent of their time on administrative work.
In the report, the authors point out that since 2008, the survey period used for the report, many of these doctors have moved up from their small private practice facilities to big group practice organisations. According to the researchers, this would only increase the time spent on administrative work, since the bureaucracy in bigger organisations tend to be much more rampant. Processing of insurance claims and the necessary patient medical history records are actually eating into the most doctors’ valuable time. And, this would only increase even more in an electronic health records system.
According to the authors, the reduction in time would not necessarily come as a result of implementing electronic medical record systems. For that, more work needs to be done in streamlining the medical insurance system currently in use. However, this does not mean that hospitals should stick to using the old paper system. The focus should be on hiring a team of medical billers and coders to reduce the burden on the doctors. Also, the Federal Government needs to do more to streamline the medical insurance processing system currently followed.