Technology Is Making Doctors Feel Like Glorified Data Entry Clerks

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Fast Company: The average day for a doctor consists of hours of data entry. Since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 took effect in January of 2011, which incentivized providers to adopt electronic medical records, hospitals have spent millions, sometimes billions, on computer systems that weren’t designed to help providers treat patients to begin with. The technology was supposed to reduce inefficiencies, make doctors’ lives easier, and improve patient outcomes, but in fact it has done the opposite. “Frankly, the main incentive is to document exhaustively so you cover your ass and get paid,” says Jay Parkinson, a New York-based pediatrician and the founder of health-tech startup Sherpa. The systems are flooding doctors with important and utterly meaningless alerts. One of the biggest problems is that the systems have made it very difficult for doctors to share information between one another, which is what the systems were intended to do all along. Why? “Because it doesn’t help the bottom line of the biggest medical record vendors or the hospitals to make it easy for patients to change doctors,” reports Fast Company. Since it often takes weeks, or months for data to be sent to and from facilities, that, according to Consumers Union staff attorney Dana Mendelsohn, increases the chances of doctors ordering duplicate tests. All of this reduces the time doctors have with their patients. A recent study shows that the average time doctors spend with their patients is about eight minutes and 12% of their time, down from 20% of their time in the late 1980s. “This group is 15 times more likely to burn out than professionals in any other line of work,” reports Fast Company. “And much of the research on the topic concludes that ‘documentation overload’ is a key factor.” To help alleviate this pain, medical groups are working to reduce the data-entry burden for doctors, so they can in turn spend more of their time with patients.


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