AMA president calls for end to electronic health record abuse

Doctors are spending excessive time on data entry which is contributing to physician burnout, says Barbara McAneny, MD.

The nation’s largest physician group is calling for an end to electronic health record “abuse” which is relegating doctors to the role of data entry clerks and leading to widespread professional burnout.

According to the American Medical Association, the problem of physician burnout is impacting about 50 percent of practicing doctors, and EHRs are squarely to blame, given that for every hour physicians spend on direct patient care they spend two hours on EHR data entry and other administrative tasks.

“Doctors are spending excessive time on data entry, contributing to physician burnout, with implications for quality of care,” AMA President Barbara McAneny, MD, told the opening session of the group’s Interim Meeting, held this week in National Harbor, Maryland.

In addition, McAneny charged that “much of the EHR technology is dysfunctional” and fails to provide clinicians with the kind of clinical information that they require to perform their jobs effectively.

“It grew out of the billing software, so it doesn’t give us the decision support or the information we need,” she said. “The vendors of these systems like to paint doctors as Luddites who don’t like technology. They need to understand that we love technology—we just want technology that works.”

Making matters worse, McAneny contends that health plans and hospitals “use data blocking or inconvenience to keep patients trapped in their systems.” Ultimately, she concluded that “doctors just want the results of the tests.”

Likewise, AMA CEO James Madara, MD, told the audience that in healthcare today there are “vast structural gaps (in) achieving true data liquidity and interoperability” and “gaps in how clinical data is organized at the point of care (as well as) gaps in availability of delightful tools that make more effective use of physician time.”

Madara warned that the “lack of timely, trusted and better organized data—as well as a lack of data liquidity—all conspire to diminish the visibility of our practices.” He added that, “it’s like driving a car with a windshield covered in snow.”

To address this shortcoming, AMA last year launched a new digital platform—the Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI)—designed to improve, organize and share healthcare information among stakeholders through a common data model.

Also See: AMA launches platform for organizing, exchanging health information

According to Madara, the IHMI data model delivers more accurate, actionable, clinically validated and organized data to better serve patients.

“IHMI has already developed a prototype demonstrating how remote blood pressures, taken in the right context, can be captured and organized within a distant medical record, without archaic paper, faxes or note keeping,” he said. “This coming year, as part of the model to address hypertension, IHMI will also capture often overlooked elements, such as patient goals and social determinants of health.”

Madara added that AMA has recruited Tom Giannulli, MD, to lead the next phase of IHMI as chief medical information officer.

“Tom is both a physician and bioengineer and launched leading-edge digital companies, such as the first EHR for the iPhone—a company that was later acquired by Epocrates,” he concluded. “These are not trivial projects, and they will take some years to develop and implement. But imagine if we had deployed these same patient- and physician-focused approaches years ago when our current electronic platforms were being built—our healthcare system would be in a far better place today.”

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