News Feature | September 22, 2014

EHRs Lower Professional Satisfaction

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

EHRs Causing Frustration Among Doctors

Confusing platforms, changes to workflow, and shifting focus from patients to computer screens make using EHRs is a major source of stress for physicians.

The American Medical Association, along with the RAND Corporation, has issued a report which argues electronic health records (EHRs) are the biggest obstacle to providing the best care possible. The report, Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems, and Health Policy, report EHRs lower physician satisfaction ratings because they cause unnecessary stress on the doctors who use them.

“Many things affect physician professional satisfaction, but a common theme is that physicians describe feeling stressed and unhappy when they see barriers preventing them from providing quality care,” said Dr. Mark Friedberg, the study’s lead author and a natural scientist at RAND in a press release.

“Physicians believe in the benefits of electronic health records, and most do not want to go back to paper charts. But at the same time, they report that electronic systems are deeply problematic in several ways. Physicians are frustrated by systems that force them to do clerical work or distract them from paying close attention to their patients.”

EHR Intelligence explains providers are feeling stress when the implementation of EHRs forces them to change their workflow, spend extra hours on documentation, and spend less time actually taking care of patients. According to the report, many doctors are coping with these problems by hiring extra staff members for documentation, such as scribes.

According to iHealth Beat, other results of the study include:

  • 61 percent of respondents said EHR use improved quality of care
  • 43 percent said they agree or strongly agree that EHRs slow them down
  • 35 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed that EHRs improved their professional satisfaction

Of those who said EHRs decreased their satisfaction, interoperability issues were a top concern.

“Overcoming modern medicine's greatest obstacles to first-rate medical care can simultaneously enhance the quality of care and improve professional satisfaction among physicians," said AMA President Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven. "The AMA is committed to leading a national dialog regarding the major factors driving many physicians to feel increasingly disconnected from what really matters – their patients."