Objectives: In 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began implementing the Patients Over Paperwork (POP) initiative in response to clinicians reporting burdensome documentation regulations. To date, no study has evaluated how these policy changes have influenced documentation burden.
Methods: Our data came from the electronic health records of an academic health system. Using quantile regression models, we assessed the association between the implementation of POP and clinical documentation word count using data from family medicine physicians in an academic health system from January 2017 to May 2021 inclusive. Studied quantiles included the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th quantiles. We controlled for patient-level (race/ethnicity, primary language, age, comorbidity burden), visit-level (primary payer, level of clinical decision making involved, whether a visit was done through telemedicine, whether a visit was for a new patient), and physician-level (sex) characteristics.
Results: We found that the POP initiative was associated with lower word counts across all of the quantiles. In addition, we found lower word counts among notes for private payers and telemedicine visits. Conversely, higher word counts were observed in notes that were written by female physicians, notes for new patient visits, and notes involving patients with greater comorbidity burden.
Conclusions: Our initial evaluation suggests that documentation burden, as measured by word count, has declined over time, particularly following implementation of the POP in 2019. Additional research is needed to see whether the same occurs when examining other medical specialties, clinician types, and longer evaluation periods.