Digitization of healthcare records has been a long time coming. The growing volume of patients and increasing demands on physician time means that EHRs are vital for practices. Electronic systems have replaced paper in many industries. But healthcare organizations are still grappling with the transition. Not all doctors and other EHR users have positive experiences with EHR systems. It is clear that things have to improve, sooner rather than later.
‘Night Work’ or After Clinic Hours
What do we mean by night work exactly? It is the time that doctors, nurses and other users spend with their EDR after regular working hours. Doctors already spend almost as much time with the computer as they spend talking to their patients. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be enough for them to catch up on clerical tasks. More and more physicians are spending hours after work, trying to finish up documentation and updating medical records.
This is valuable time doctors could be spending with friends, family or even some much needed rest at the end of the day. Many physicians are overworked and underpaid, especially those who work in underserved areas or under privileged communities. Do we really need EDRs that burden them with more things to do? The worst part of this whole problem is that most of these tasks are mundane and routine. They don’t need a professional to complete them. And doctors don’t get compensated for all the extra work either.
Hidden Causes of Night Work
Outdated EDR interfaces and unintuitive workflows are certainly a part of the problem. While hosted EDR services are updated frequently, older generation on-premise systems are not. So many practices are stuck with poorly designed software or slow applications. What used to take them a few seconds with paper, now takes more than a couple of minutes. Those minutes quickly add up!
But that’s not the whole story. Increasing regulations also play a part in night work. Stringent requirements – from authorities and insurance companies – fuel the problem at hand. Healthcare practices are almost forced to waste physicians’ valuable time. What’s the point of a doctor spending an hour on EDR updates for every 2 hours of seeing patients? By the end of the day, they could have treated a couple more people in that time!
There is yet another aspect to night work. Tasks that could be – and previously were- done by other team members now fall to the primary care physician instead. Updating patient records, entering visit documentation, correcting prescription notes etc become a burden that doctors have to tackle at the end of the day.
Tracking Night Work in your Practice
You might wonder how much night work you or your staff is putting in. Some users are not even aware that they’re losing hours each week to night work. How do you track this time? Most EDRs have built in event tracking tools. Although all users won’t have access, system administrators most certainly will. This is a great tool if you want to see how much time you waste on EDR updates every day.
These tools track all sorts of events, including technical snags as well as regular use. You won’t learn much just from a single day’s events though. Keep an eye on the output for a week or even a month to see if your users are spending too much time on documentation. There isn’t much you can do about regulatory requirements. However you can do something about your EDR software, if that is indeed the culprit. Modern systems are way ahead of older generation software. So it might just be time for you to switch!