Pediatricians spend 16 minutes per patient encounter in EHR, study finds 

Pediatricians on average spend about 16 minutes using the EHR for each outpatient encounter, according to a study published this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics

For the study, Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers analyzed Cerner EHR data from about 20 million patient encounters involving 30,000 pediatricians. The Cerner EHR log files are pulled from 2018 and represent 417 health systems across the U.S. 

The research team applied time limits around computer keystrokes and mouse clicks/movements to distinguish work in the EHR from times when records may have sat idly open when the physician was working on other tasks. The team then broke clinician work in the EHR into 13 categories, with chart review, documentation and ordering making up a collective 75 percent of total pediatrician activity in the EHR. 

The researchers found that the average time per encounter was 16 minutes, but this varied across pediatric subspecialties. Pediatric surgery was the lowest at 6.82 minutes and rheumatology was highest at 26.41 minutes. 

“With everyone in this study using Cerner’s software, the wide variation that we found within each subspecialty is perhaps surprising and suggests significant opportunity for more efficient use of the EHR as presently configured,” said Kevin Johnson, MD, biomedical informatics chair at VUMC and study co-author, according to a Nov. 4 news release

EHR usage data broken down by specialty and average encounter times provides “an important set of metrics against which we can compare new EHR innovations,” Dr. Johnson concluded. 

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