Houston Matters

Study: Electronic Health Records Create Information Overload for Doctors and Risks for Patients

Do you spend way too much time at work responding to email? Well, it’s no different for doctors — but with possible greater consequences. In our digital world, many physicians spend more than an hour a day processing and responding to electronic notifications — things like test results, requests for prescription refills, referral requests and […]

Do you spend way too much time at work responding to email? Well, it’s no different for doctors — but with possible greater consequences.

In our digital world, many physicians spend more than an hour a day processing and responding to electronic notifications — things like test results, requests for prescription refills, referral requests and messages from colleagues. That’s according to a study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

The report says physicians spend an estimated 66.8 minutes per day processing these notifications. While specialists receive less than half this amount of notifications, and part-time physicians receive an amount disproportionately higher than their time spent in clinic.

The study, which appears in Internal Medicine edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates such electronic communication adds a substantial and significant burden to doctors’ workdays — and its authors say that added workload could adversely affect patients.

To learn more about this issue, we talk with two researchers involved in the study: Dr. Daniel R. Murphy and Dr. Hardeep Singh, both with the VA Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine.

MORE: The Burden of Inbox Notifications in Commercial Electronic Health Records (JAMA Internal Medicine, March 15, 2016)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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