Objective: We evaluate physician productivity using electronic medical records in a community hospital emergency department.
Methods: Physician time usage per hour was observed and tabulated in the categories of direct patient contact, data and order entry, interaction with colleagues, and review of test results and old records.
Results: The mean percentage of time spent on data entry was 43% (95% confidence interval, 39%-47%). The mean percentage of time spent in direct contact with patients was 28%. The pooled weighted average time allocations were 44% on data entry, 28% in direct patient care, 12% reviewing test results and records, 13% in discussion with colleagues, and 3% on other activities. Tabulation was made of the number of mouse clicks necessary for several common emergency department charting functions and for selected patient encounters. Total mouse clicks approach 4000 during a busy 10-hour shift.
Conclusion: Emergency department physicians spend significantly more time entering data into electronic medical records than on any other activity, including direct patient care. Improved efficiency in data entry would allow emergency physicians to devote more time to patient care, thus increasing hospital revenue.