There’s no question that physician time is valuable – and at a premium. In today’s healthcare marketplace there are many demands placed on doctors’ time, and there are numerous requirements in place for patient documentation.

The “urgent” in urgent care gives a clue just how important physician time and efficiency is for this sector of the healthcare industry. It’s critically important these centers establish and maintain best practice workflow to meet the needs of the retail-oriented patients and help the urgent care operator meet bottom line benchmarks for revenue.

But a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine included this startling conclusion: “For every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours is spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day.”

Now, the study included just a small sample of about 60 doctors in four states. It included a cross section of physicians from ambulatory settings such as family and internal medicine, cardiology, and orthopedics.

“During the doctor-timeoffice day, physicians spent 27% of their total time on direct clinical face time with patients and 49.2% of their time on (electronic health records) and desk work. While in the examination room with patients, physicians spent 52.9% of the time on direct clinical face time and 37% on EHR and desk work,” the report said. Not only is this trend bad for patients, it’s leading to more cases of physician burnout, researchers say.

Unlike many other specialties, there is a very strong 80/20 rule in urgent care. The top 10 diagnoses make up the majority of urgent care visits. If they are using the right system, urgent care operators don’t have to reinvent the entire chart for every patient visit. This is the main reason why non-urgent care EMRs are dysfunctional and add to inefficiency and wait times in urgent care centers.

Practice Velocity’s urgent care-specific EMR streamlines operations for centers. And it’s newest software feature, Chartlet, was developed with the goal of getting the EMR out of the way during patient encounters. Chartlet allows doctors to chart a patient visit in around 1 minute, leaving plenty of time for face-to-face interaction.

We can’t speak for everyone in the medical field, but certainly there’s growing concern about the amount of time spent interacting with electronic medical records instead of patients. Let’s continue to innovate ways to meet the needs of electronic medical record systems and best serve the patients.