Physicians split time evenly between patient care & desktop medicine: 5 points

Physicians spend a relatively equal amount of time on patient interactions and desktop medicine, according to a Health Affairs study.

Researchers looked at physicians' time allocation patterns in more than 31 million EHR transactions between 2011 and 2014. Overall, the study assessed 471 physicians who documented clinical work on 765,129 patient EHRs.

Here are five points:

1. Physicians spent 3.08 hours on face-to-face interactions with patients and 3.17 hours on desktop medicine for a total of 6.25 hours. Desktop medicine includes:
●    Messaging patients through a secure portal
●    Responding to online prescription refill requests
●    Giving online patient advice
●    Ordering tests
●    Reviewing tests
●    Messaging staff

2. Health Affairs found those physicians with more EHR experience spent less time on desktop medicine.

3. Physicians at level 2 or level 3 clinics had more face-to-face time with patients.

4. The researchers noted their research may have implications for payment reform as payers do not reimburse providers for a large portion of desktop medicine work.

5. The study had several limitations, including but not limited to, not precisely estimating the time spent on some activities as well as analyzing a healthcare system that was an early EHR adopter, which makes it difficult to generalize findings for late adopters.

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