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Mayo Clinic study: EHRs may cause physician burnout

When the government mandated that healthcare organizations adopt EHRs seven years ago via meaningful use, the promise was that EHRs would transform healthcare, make processes more efficient, and improve patient care. Maybe the systems did those things but, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic, EHRs could also be causing physician burnout.

Indeed, nearly half of doctors in the United States are burned out, with EHRs partly to blame, according to an article by U.S. News and World Report.

Since 2008, the number of healthcare organizations using EHRs has soared from 15% to 80%.

However, the Mayo study found a link between the use of EHRs and physician burnout – with computer ordering likely to be the driving cause.

The study also showed that today’s EHR systems have failed to live up to their early expectations. Instead, they have triggered widespread exasperation among physicians with 44% of respondents who use EHRs responding that they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with EHRs and 41% of respondents said they disagreed or strongly disagreed that EHRs have improved patient care.

A majority of the surveyed doctors (63%) also reported that EHRs fail to improve efficiency. In fact, they said their work often ends up leaking into what should be their leisure and personal time. Nearly two-thirds of the physicians said they work at least 50 hours a week and about one in five said they work nearly 70 hours a week.

The study also found that EHRs and computerized orders actually make documentation and other clerical chores more burdensome for physicians.

Anti-EHR sentiment among doctors is fairly widespread. Charles Krauthammer, M.D., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post asserting that EHRs are a major reason why doctors quit.