American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting

American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting

May 01, 2018
2 min read

EHRs need overhaul to limit time spent on them

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NEW ORLEANS — Electronic health records need to meet clinical needs, not administrative ones, to prevent physicians from spending too much on the technology, according to a presenter at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting.

“It’s particularly worrisome that there’s a great deal of dissatisfaction among physicians regarding EHRs, and how much time they spend on them,” Elmer V. Bernstam, MD, associate dean for research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, told Healio Family Medicine.

“There are many reasons for this [large amount of time], including the fact that many tasks once performed by staff, such as entering verbal orders, are now shifted to the physician. If you look at which groups in health care are incentivized to improving EHRs, it’s not the vendors, but the physicians and patients. It’s very important that internists and members of ACP be involved in this discussion.”

Bernstam moderated a panel that looked at ways EHRs can be changed to lessen the time spent on them, while finding ways to improve both the technology and the policies around its use to best support clinical processes.

He pointed to data that suggest fulfilling U.S. Preventive Services Task Force requirements would require 7.4 hours a day of routine EHR maintenance. Other research has suggested that lowering amount of time spent on EHRs would yield many benefits, including reducing the risk for physician burnout.

Bernstam added that the answer to less time spent on EHRs can be found outside the medical profession.

“If you look at the aviation industry, which we often do in health care when we talk about quality improvements and patient safety, we could learn a lot from their cockpit technology,” he said.

“This technology is designed to help pilots do the best job they can of piloting the aircraft as efficiently and safely as possible, and not bog them down with paperwork such as airline schedules. If we focus EHRs on clinical tasks, and remove the automated routine tasks, such as vaccinations and cancer screening reminders, that would be a great improvement,” he said in the interview.

Until the automated approach is implemented, panelists suggested internists measure clinical effects and identify best practices to reduce the amount of time spent on EHRs. – by Janel Miller


Bernstam EV. What physicians really need from EHRs to be successful in a value-based world. Presented at: American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting; April 17-21, 2018; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Bernstam reports receiving honoraria from Dialecta and Sumitomo Group; serving as a consultant or in an advisory role for Clearlight Diagnostics, Darwin Health GRAIL, Genentech, Inflection Biosciences, Pieris Pharmaceuticals, and Samsung Bioepis; and receiving research funding from Abbvie, Aileron Therapeutics, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Calithera Biosciences, Curis, CytomX Therapeutics, eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Debiopharm Group, Genentech, Jounce Therapeutics, Novartis, Pfizer, PUMA Biotechnology, and Zymeworks. He also reports his spouse has received research grants and contracts from Aileron, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Calithera, Curis, CytoMx, Debiopharma, eFFECTOR, Genentech, Jounce, Novartis, Pfizer, PUMA and Taiho; his spouse has served as a consultant for Dialecta and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma; and his spouse has also served on boards and committees for Clearlight Diagnostics, Darwin, GRAIL, Health, Inflection Biosciences and Pieris.