Does EHR Documentation Affect Work-life Balance of Physicians?

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Dec 08, 2022

Does EHR Documentation Affect Work-life Balance of Physicians?

Work-life balance is a key contributor to physician well-being and professional satisfaction. With the advent of technology the lines between work and home have been blurred considerably and physicians carry patient charts home to work on. No wonder, burned out physicians have cited paperwork demands and carrying charts home to complete as the main reasons for feeling out of balance. As a physician your time is limited and valuable and it doesn’t mean that you have to take care of tasks that you weren’t meant to do and when someone else can do it for you. Using medical scribes to assist with documentation and electronic health records can help you strike a balance between your professional and personal lives. Yes, it’s a wise decision to outsource your medical documentation requirements to a professional company instead of juggling your time and energy to survive shifts and complete your charts.

Burnout and work-life balance

We know that a large workload without enough time to complete it is the key driver of burnout. And when the work is not related to seeing patients – excessive paperwork or administrative demands it can be draining. If these are the root causes for burnout how can you balance work and family life as a physician? One of the proposed solutions to deal with burnout and maintain work-life balance is to take scribe support. Scribe support can help alleviate documentation, reduce burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

EHR and work-life balance

The EHR documentation demands placed on physicians in really getting out of hands. A study was conducted among primary care residents and faculty to find out if electronic health records negatively impact work-life balance and trigger burnout. 53% reported that they were dissatisfied with their work-life balance and 85% reported that the use of EHRs affected their work-life balance. Most importantly, after work hours spent on EHR-related tasks were associated with higher burnout rates and less work-life satisfaction among primary residents and faculty. The EHR work that happens outside of normal clinic operational hours or at home is called as “pajama time”. Cutting down on “pajama time” helps physicians restore their work-life balance.

EHR burden linked to work-life balance and satisfaction

A 2018 national cross-sectional survey data by The Pediatrician Life and Career Experience Study tracked the life and work experiences of early to mid-career pediatricians. 74% of pediatricians reported that EHRs were a moderate to major source of burden and 54% reported that they found it difficult to balance professional responsibilities with personal time and family obligations. This longitudinal study concluded that most of the early to mid-career pediatricians attribute their administrative burdens to their EHR use. This experience resulted in poor work-life balance and a lower level of job and life satisfaction.

How virtual medical scribes can help

The use of virtual medical scribes can reduce EHR documentation burden and help physicians regain work-life balance. Virtual scribes complete charts in real-time and help save up to 2 to 3 hours in a day. By giving physicians back their time they were better able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. There was no need to wake up early and chart prior to clinic hours or stay back after clinic hours to catch up with the days charting. Physicians were able to get home early and spend some quality time with family, with no charting to be done. One study reports that pairing a medical scribe with a physician led to increased clinician satisfaction, reduced burnout symptoms and enhanced productivity. Physicians also noted that scribes not only increased their daily energy levels and improved work-life balance, but also a desire to work more shifts if they could continue to utilize a scribe.

One of the issues that physicians face in perfecting work-life balance is the overwhelming paperwork and administrative duties that physicians have to perform on a daily basis. Especially in this age of technology, charting responsibilities may extend beyond the hours spent "at work" and spill over to “at home” as well. By hiring virtual medical scribes to provide real-time documentation assistance, physicians don’t have to work late to complete charts or bring home charts to complete. With scribes taking the documentation burden off physicians’ shoulders, allows them to better focus on patients as well as achieve a greater work-life balance.

Are you a physician having trouble maintaining an optimal work-life balance? Do you feel fed up with the amount of documentation required in EHRs? We are here to help you. Scribe4Me’s expert scribes can help you do real-time EHR documentation. So, no more completing charts after- hours or carrying charts home to be done. With no documentation burden hanging over your head you can get back home early for dinner with family. You have more personal time to take care of your physical, emotional and mental health. And all this means providing better patient care too.

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