Doctors spend 16 minutes on each patient’s EHR per visit — why is this happening and what can be done about it? Survey Results

Electronic health records (EHRs) were supposed to make life easier for everyone involved in the healthcare system.

Patients would be able to see their medical history, prescriptions, and test results at a glance. Doctors would have an electronic record of their patients’ care. Nurses and other clinicians would easily access patient information when they needed it.

Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be working out that way. Doctors are spending more time with EHRs than with their patients. Here’s why that is happening and what can be done about it.


Surveys indicate family doctors are spending 16 minutes on each EHR. There can be ways to make that time more productive, especially in the management of Chronic Care Planning. With Complex Care Plan software, for example, the time spent on inputting can improve planning and management of critical care and chronic care patients.

How Much Time Do Doctors Spend With EHRs?

J. Marc Overhage, MD, Ph.D., and David McCallie Jr., MD, both of the Cerner Corporation’s Cerner Lights On Network, conducted a study for the Annals of Internal Medicine to determine how much time doctors spend with EHRs.

The study looked at 155,000 physicians and over 100 million patient visits in non-surgical specialties, such as internal medicine, cardiology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. The results showed that, on average, doctors spent 16 minutes and 14 seconds on each patient record per visit.

The experiment was conducted on 417 different health systems throughout the United States. It looked at how much time doctors spent typing and moving their cursor around the screen during their routine visits.

The results showed three main tasks to be the biggest time killers:

  • Chart reviews (33%)
  • Documentation (24%)
  • Ordering (17%)

Of course, these tasks are extremely vague and encompass many different activities. However, we can get a general idea of how much time is spent on EHRs when we break down the numbers.


Why Is This Happening?

There are two key reasons why doctors spend more time with EHRs than with their patients.

First, the user-friendliness of EHRs needs to be improved. Too often, doctors are required to input the same information multiple times or navigate through a maze of menus to find what they need.

Second, there is an increasing demand for data from doctors, insurers, and government agencies. EHRs are the best way to collect and track this data, but it puts a burden on doctors to spend more time at their computers.

What Effect Does This Have On The System?

This extra time spent with EHRs harms both patient and doctor experiences. For patients, it means that they are not getting the personal attention they need. In addition, they may have to wait longer for their appointment because the doctor is spending time on the computer instead of with them.

For doctors, it means increased workload and risk of burnout.

It also means that they cannot spend as much time with each patient as they would like, leading to decreased quality of care and in rare cases, malpractice suits.


Available Solutions

Thankfully, software companies are aware of the problem and are working to develop user-friendly EHR integrations. Complex Care Plan, for example, is an EMR tool that makes it easy for doctors to review summaries of patient health, with health trends clearly identified. For those patients with chronic diseases, it automatically creates customized care plans.

By automating time-consuming tasks, Complex Care Plan enables doctors to spend more time with their patients. Streamlining with an easy-to-use EMR tool can help to improve doctor-patient interactions, continuity of care, and overall patient satisfaction. It may also help increase patient time and billable time for family doctors.

Would you like to know more about how Complex Care Plan enables doctors to spend more time with their patients? Contact us: