Electronic medical records slowing doctors down


Electronic medical records may need an Rx, according to a new survey of doctors published in JAMA. More than 60 percent of 400 doctors surveyed said it takes longer to take patient notes via computer than on an old-fashioned notepad. On average, they lose 48 minutes a day due to EMRs.

"It used to be that as I was I sitting with patients I was writing the notes, and I would be done when they left the room," Dr. Leora Horwitz, director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science at NYU Langone Medical Center, told NPR's Shots. "Now, 100 percent of the time I have to stay afterward, and I'm a really fast typist."

And 15 percent of the doctors surveyed said that EMRs did free up at least some time. But even then, some argue that computers are taking too much focus off the doctor-patient relationship.

"Medical care requires dialogue," Dr. Abigail Zuger wrote in The New York Times. "The fact is that even if all the redundant clinical information sitting on hospital servers everywhere were error-free, and even if excellent software made it all reasonably accessible, doctors and nurses still shouldn’t be spending their time reading."

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