4 factors determining how much time clinicians spend in the EHR

Time spent on after-hours EHR documentation is one of the main factors driving clinicians' burnout. Clinicians' specialty, gender, region and organizational structure are the four main factors determining how much time they spend on this after-hours work, according to study results released Jan. 25 by EHR company Athenahealth.

The research team analyzed 8.1 million hours of active EHR work completed by 14,520 clinicians using Athenahealth software over a five-month period in the first half of 2021. 

Four things to know:

  1. Healthcare organizations requiring more complex documentation have clinicians who spend more time in the EHR, both during and outside patient hours. These organizations tend to be larger and have more detailed policies on charting, as well as a more varied mix of payer contracts and fee structures, according to the study.

  2. The weekly number of hours a clinician spends in the EHR varies by specialty. The study found adult primary care clinicians spend the most time in the EHR per week, followed by neurologists.

  3. Female and male clinicians spend the same amount of time cumulatively on EHR documentation per week. However, female clinicians spend more time on documentation on a per-patient basis, scheduling an average of 60 visits per week, compared with their male counterparts, who schedule an average of 73. Gender differences in documentation minutes per visit is at least 20 percent across most clinician specialties, according to the study.

  4. Given female clinicians' likelihood to spend more time in the EHR and the more equal clinician gender ratio in New England and the Middle Atlantic, clinicians in the Northeast spend more time on EHR documentation than other regions in the U.S.

Learn more about the study here.

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