A Stanford Medicine survey conducted by The Harris Poll found that more than 6 in 10 primary care doctors say electronic health records have led to improved patient care. However, a majority also report frustration with how the demands of the digital systems affect their relationships with patients.
Presenting the results June 4 at Stanford Medicine’s EHR National Symposium, Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, said the survey illustrates the gap between the potential and current reality of the documentation technology. He charged the attendees — leaders in patient care, technology, design thinking and public policy — to chart a future that fulfills the clinical promise of EHRs while reducing the administrative burdens.
“We absolutely don’t want today to be about pointing fingers or trying to assign blame,” Minor said. “The goal of today’s conference is to define where we are today, identify the opportunities for the future, and begin to form a road map about how we succeed in achieving those opportunities.”
With panel discussions and breakout sessions focused on problem-solving, the daylong symposium touched on fixing inefficiencies in EHRs, harnessing data for population health management, building on successes and overcoming obstacles.
The online survey — of more than 500 primary care physicians throughout the United States — provided a baseline of opinions and experiences.
What doctors report
Two-thirds of doctors report being at least somewhat satisfied with their electronic health records system, though 4 in 10 say the records bring more challenges than benefits, according to the survey. About 7 in 10 physicians say EHRs take valuable time away from patients, and an equal percentage say the systems contribute greatly to burnout.
Of 31 minutes devoted to a patient, doctors estimate they spend 12 interacting with the patient, eight interacting with the records systems during the visit, and another 11 minutes on the computer after the visit, according to the poll.
Though data entry required by digital systems can be burdensome, local culture and workflow can influence how physicians regard their EHR experience, panelists at the symposium said.
Christine Sinsky, MD, vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association, said that over 16 years, she’s seen expectations for digital documentation grow. “The expectations that every act must go through the EHR, that we translate the clinical experience into digital data for the convenience of others and not for advancing clinical care — those pressures have increased.”
Taylor Davis of KLAS, a company that compiles and analyzes user feedback on health information technology for vendors, said surveys with more than 20,000 respondents found that organizations with the most satisfied workers were not the ones with cutting-edge technology, but those that emphasized teamwork, training and understanding how to use the system.