Ten minutes per patient documenting? Why you never see an Ophthalmologist out late at night.

The transition to electronic health records (computerized medical records to normal people) has been more or less mandated by governmental and private insurers. The time, cost, and effort involved in making the transition has led many physicians to fondly recall the use of paper charts in the past as “the good old days”. Physicians and their practices will need to adapt to the new reality.

According to a recent presentation at the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, ophthalmologists spend an average of 10 minutes per patient documenting in their computers. Michael F. Chiang, MD, and colleagues found that an ophthalmologist who saw 2,500 patients over 1 year spent 10 minutes documenting per patient; 46% of that documentation time occurred during the visit with the patient present, 41% occurred during business hours after the patent had left, and 12% occurred on nights and weekends.1

“How much is 10 minutes per patient?  If you saw 30 patients per day, then its 5 hours per day pointing and clicking at the EHR,” Dr. Chiang said.

Five hours pointing and clicking! Clearly this explains why you never see ophthalmologists in the Masters Tournament, competing in “Dancing With The Stars,” or out partying late at night. Instead they just sit at home, staring at their computer screens, pointing and clicking.

The future requires that physicians perform only those tasks that require all of their years of schooling—what can be delegated to staff should be delegated to staff. In my personal view, physician practices need to evolve so that we are never spending time doing things like documenting for 5 hours per day.

  1. http://www.cmio.net/topics/ehr-emr/pediatric-ophthalmologists-spend-10-minutes-patient-doing-ehr-documentation