Primary care physicians (PCPs), who spend the most time in the electronic health record (EHR), are the ones who spend the most time in the EHR in the United States. This is due to the fact that the electronic health record (EHR) has become increasingly prevalent in the day-to-day practise of physicians. Before researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked into this crucial intersection, the link between the amount of time spent in the electronic health record (EHR) and the quality of ambulatory care was unknown.
The team tracked ambulatory quality measures (year-end, PCP panel-level achievement of targets for haemoglobin A1C level control, lipid management, hypertension control, diabetes screening, and breast cancer screening) in their cross-sectional study of 291 primary care physicians and discovered a significant, positive relationship between EHR time and some of these measures, specifically panel-wide haemoglobin A1C level control, hypertension control, and breast cancer screening. These connections show that additional time spent in the EHR may boost some care outcomes, particularly for physicians who spend less than half of their time seeing patients. In particular, this may be the case for doctors who spend less than half of their time seeing patients.
Even though more time spent on electronic health records is linked to burnout, this may be indicate a level of thoroughness or communication that improves certain outcomes. It could be helpful for future research to characterise payment structures, procedures, and technologies that enable high-quality ambulatory care delivery while minimising the stress of using electronic health records (EHR).
The Primary Care Center of Excellence at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is led by Lead Author Lisa Rotenstein, MD, MBA.