EMRs are Wasting Physician Time

Like all early stage entrepreneurial organizations, Afoundria is seeking to sharpen its focus and refine its message. This is important both in terms of looking inward, i.e. what should be the top priority for everyone in your organization as they do their jobs, and from the perspective of painting a clear picture to customers and prospects regarding what you do and how you intend to do it.

This fundamental tenet of sound business was brought clearly into focus for me recently when I read a news article, Physicians feel EMRs 'waste' too much time, study finds, and the referenced research brief in JAMA describing a study surveying doctors on the effects of EHRs on their time budgeting and allocation.

I was profoundly disappointed in the findings.


The majority of physicians spend significantly more time performing the critical functions of recording notes, accessing past historical information, and reading notes of other practitioners when using EHRs than they did before implementing these electronic systems. A randomly selected group of providers estimated that these functions collectively took on average 48 minutes longer using EMRs.

Sitting here today, I can additionally reflect on my experience of last night when for the first time, I used one of the "premier" Hospital Information Systems to care for patients in a busy emergency department. Although I certainly hope to improve with practice, my productivity was literally cut in half! Despite increasing our physician staffing significantly, our wait times ballooned and a number of patients left without treatment, frustrated with the wait.


What would you have your doctor or your loved ones' doctors spend their time doing? Should they be sitting attentively in front of you, fully engaged in the meaningful discourse that is the essence of good medical practice? Or should they be staring intently at a computer screen trying to record or receive information from an electronic tool?

Don't get me wrong. I got started in electronic health records more than 25 years ago based on a conviction that information technology was the key to improving care. My disappointment with the state we are in, as reflected in both the formal study and my personal experience, does not change my fundamental belief in the power of technology. We simply have not done it right.

Afoundria intends to do it right. We will start and end each day, each task, each interaction with peers, partners, and prospects with a commitment to make the recording, updating, sharing, and distribution of health records serve the provider. By giving them technology and applications that improve their efficiency and their effectiveness, we will give them back the 48 minutes to share more time and more meaningful time with patients and families.

We are early in this process. There is a large mountain to climb to achieve the "Holy Grail" - an electronic health record that allows health care practitioners to deliver better care and a better care experience for patients and providers. But don't doubt for a minute that we will get there.