Study: Gender affects physicians' EHR efficiency, usability, stress

Physicians who identify as male or female experience different levels of EHR-related stress, satisfaction and usability, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania researchers performed mixed-methods assessments of 25 intensive care unit physicians' EHR use and perceptions. The research team used simulated cases, performance measures, interviews and satisfaction surveys as part of the study.

Of the 25 study participants, 48 percent were men and 52 percent were women. The average age for the physicians was 33 years old with an average of four years of Epic EHR experience.

Here are the study results, listed by EHR measurement categories:

1. Task performance. Overall task performance scores were similar for males (90 percent) and females (92 percent) with no statistically significant differences.

2. Completion time and mouse clicks. Female physicians showed a higher efficiency in completion time, with a difference of 7.1 minutes, as well as mouse clicks, which totaled a difference of 54 clicks.

3. Workload stress and frustration. Compared to the female physicians, males reported significantly higher perceived EHR workload stress, with a difference of 17.5. Males also reported significantly higher levels of frustration with the EHR, at a difference of 33.15.

4. Ease of use and overall usability. Female participants reported significantly higher satisfaction than males with the EHR's ease of use, with a difference of 0.66. The females' perceived overall usability of the EHR was slightly higher than the males' at a difference of 10.31.

Study authors concluded that among the ICU physicians in the study, there were significant gender-based differences in perceived EHR workload stress, satisfaction and usability.

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