Background: The electronic health record has improved medical billing, research, and sharing of patient data, but its clinical use by physicians has been linked to rising physician burnout leading to numerous subjective editorials about the electronic health record inefficiencies and detriment to frontline caregivers. This study aimed to quantify electronic health record use by surgeons.
Methods: The study is a retrospective review and descriptive analysis of deidentified electronic health record data from September 2016 to June 2017. A binary time series was created for each attending to calculate electronic health record system login times. The primary outcome was the total amount of time a surgeon logged into the electronic health record system during the study period.
Results: Fifty-one general surgery attendings (31 males, 20 females), spanning 9 specialties spent a mean of 2.0 hours per day and 13.8 hours per week logged into the electronic health record. The top 15% of users were logged in for an average of 4.6 hours per weekday. Sixty-five percent of overall electronic health record use occurred on-site, and 35% was remote. A greater proportion of remote use occurred during nighttime hours and Sundays. Clinic days required the largest amount of electronic health record use time compared with operating room and administrative days.
Conclusion: General surgery attendings spend a considerable amount of time using the electronic health record. Ultimately, the goal of these quantitative electronic health record results is to correlate with burnout and job satisfaction data to facilitate the implementation of programs to improve efficiency and decrease the burden of charting. Further investigation needs to focus on subgroups who are high electronic health record users to better identify the barriers to efficient electronic health record use.