Authors: Heather Figlar, Senior Digital Analyst, and Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst

When the CEO of a major EHR system vendor says electronic health records are getting in the way of patient care and health systems are beaming in virtual medical scribes to help docs keep up, it’s probably safe to say we have a problem. Doctors in the U.S. are spending a large chunk of their working days – 3.5 hours, on average, according to DRG’s Taking the Pulse® U.S. 2016 study – using their EHRs. Unwieldy EHR systems are, as AthenaHealth’s Jonathan Bush says, “Turning caregivers into box checkers” and fueling patient and physician dissatisfaction.

The EHR revolution is also generating a ton of incredibly valuable data – data that is already beginning to facilitate better, more precise care, both at the level of the individual patient and across populations. Over time, the EHR will doubtless take more intuitive, less intrusive forms. But for now, it’s a huge time suck for physicians and an impediment to patient-physician dialogue.

Funny thing is, for all that time physicians are spending on EHRs, they have yet to become the sort of go-to, all-in-one repository of information and resources for physicians that some envisioned a decade ago. Our studies show that physicians continue to rely on external digital information sources such as pharma and HCP websites to aid them in making clinical decisions. Per Taking the Pulse® U.S. 2016 data:

  • More than 4 out of 5 U.S. physicians use digital info sources outside of the EHR to support clinical decision-making
  • U.S. physicians spend 2.2 hours per working day, on average, using these external digital info sources for professional purposes. That’s less time than they’re spending on electronic health records, but it’s a substantial chunk of their day and it’s trending up in tandem with time spent on EHR
  •  Nearly half of physicians agree that “I only do the bare minimum of activities I need to in my EHR,” and only one-third agree that “I can generally find all of the information I need for my practice in my EHR.”

This means that digital resources for professionals from pharma remain highly relevant, for the time being. In the long term, however, as EHRs become ever more central to physicians’ practice, pharma will need to figure out how to serve them content and resources through this mainframe of the HCP workstream. One place to start might be with patient education and support services, as fewer than one-third of physicians are satisfied with the level of patient support resources offered through their EHRs.


What are the best short and long term plays for your brand when it comes to the EHR landscape?

DRG Digital Analyst Heather Figlar  has written a new report to help pharma brands assess this complex landscape. We also are able to provide customized analyses and recommendations for 25+ specialty types.

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