Oncologists get more EHR messages but spend less time on them

Oncologists receive more messages per day than other physicians but spend less time in electronic health records, researchers found.

The study, published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum, used data from 349 ambulatory healthcare systems from January to August 2019, 318 of which included oncologists. Researchers compared EHR use to other specialties, including cardiology, general endocrinology, immunology, gastroenterology and hepatology, geriatrics, hematology, infectious disease, nephrology, orthopedics, pulmonology, rheumatology and reproductive endocrinology.

Here are four findings:

  • Oncologists had a mean of 9.4 patient encounters per day, compared with 9.6 per day for other specialties.

  • Oncologists received an average of 28.3 EHR messages per day, compared to 25.4 messages for other physicians.

  • Oncologists received a higher proportion of results and system-generated messages, but fewer prescription and patient messages per day. However, they spent about three minutes less on EHRs per day compared to their peers.

  • Oncologists also had 38 percent of notes derived from copy/paste, compared to 23 percent for other specialties; and they used SmartPhrase less.

"Some system-generated messages can be clinically meaningful (i.e., reminders that completion of labs or imaging orders are overdue); however, system-generated messages have also been associated with higher probability of burnout and physicians' intention to reduce clinical work time," the researchers said.

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