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Physicians getting burnt as electronic records are coming in hot

Converting to digital medical records was supposed to make your care safer and more efficient. But according to a new study, it may be sending things in the opposite direction.

A strong correlation between hard-to-use electronic health records (EHR) and physician burnout has been made in a recent study. The findings reveal that software that might be handling your medical charts is contributing to heightened rates of exhaustion for doctors, which could lead to medical errors and malpractice.

Faulty systems

Offices across the country have installed EHR programs at break-neck speeds in recent years, thanks in large part to billions of dollars in federal incentives. The fast-paced rollout has left doctors trying to play catchup, the director of the Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Yale, Edward R. Melnick, told YaleNews. And those playing catchup are generally the ones spending more time staring at a computer screen than helping patients.

Technical difficulties

For every hour that a doctor sees you in their office, they might be spending up to two hours working with an EHR. Then they might add another two hours of EHR work in their personal time. And all this may not provide any payoff for you or them. Physicians still complain the structure doesn't do much to improve the care that you receive, says Melnick. Rather, it places the focus on billing instead of communication.

Burning both ends

All these frustrations don't come without consequences. Doctors that are worn down by convoluted systems are more likely to show symptoms of burnout, according to the study. The repercussions of this debilitating fatigue could pass on to you in many forms, such as errors in judgment, missed diagnoses and medication errors.

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