BY HANS DUVEFELT
Conclusion: For every hour that physicians provide to patients in direct clinic, nearly 2 additional hours are spent on EHR and office work during the clinical day. Outside of office hours, physicians spend an extra 1-2 hours of personal time each night doing extra computers and other office work. (Sinsky et al, 2016)
If we only had the tools and administrative support that almost all of us have asked for, there would be no doctor shortage.
The quote here is from 7 years ago and things have gotten even worse since then.
Major league baseball players do not manage their game scores and statistics. They just play ball.
Somehow, when the practice of medicine became a commercial and governmental enterprise, more data was needed to measure productivity and quality (or at least compliance with guidelines). And somehow, for reasons that I don’t fully understand and certainly don’t agree with, doctors were asked to not only continue to treat our patients, but also to more than double our workload by documenting more things than we actually needed to treat our patients. Even if we thus became data collectors for research, public health and public policy, we had neither the tools nor the time to make this possible – at least not without harming our patients or wearing ourselves out.
We didn’t sign up to do all of this, we signed up to care for our patients. And we were given clumsy tools to work with that, in many ways, made it harder to document and share our clinical impressions and thoughts with our colleagues.
It takes many years to become a doctor, and sometimes many more to become a good doctor. I don’t know who came up with the crazy idea to force us to enter all the data to serve these other purposes that had never been part of the practice of medicine before. It was said that seeing two more patients a day would pay for an assistant/scribe or whatever is needed.
So… Why isn’t this happening? In my own personal experience, we’ve survived 15-minute tours with a previous DME. With our new (Epic, the likely industry leader), that’s just not possible. What’s wrong with this picture?
With administrative support, there would be no doctor shortages and the burnout epidemic would not have the proportions it has today.
Let the doctors do the medical work and leave the accounting to someone else, at least until EMR technology catches up with us and speeds us up instead of slowing us down!
Hans Duvefelt is a family doctor, author and creator of “A Country Doctor Writes”.