All in a Day’s Work: Physicians Glued to E-mail, Phone

Wed, May 12, 2010

Fact Finder

Study suggests EHR could improve workflow efficiency.

Answering e-mails and attending to other tasks that provide limited reimbursement keep primary care physicians busy these days, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that analyzed data from electronic health records.

Led by Richard J. Baron, MD of Greenhouse Internists, a community-based internal medicine practice in Philadelphia, the study looked into the records of 8,440 patients between 15 and 99 years of age. Using EHR, it was able to track the average daily workload of a primary care physician for one year.

According to Baron, a physician performs the following tasks on an average workday:

  • Sees 18.1 patients;
  • Directly handles 79.7 percent of the 23.7 phone calls the office receives;
  • Answers 16.8 e-mails, 59.3 percent of which deal with test result interpretations;
  • Reviews 19.5 lab reports, 11.1 imaging reports and 13.9 consult

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