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  • Writer's pictureAmir Gilboa

Doctor’s screen time

Let’s try to think about our last visit to the doctor’s office.

How much time did the doctor spend looking at us as opposed to the time they spent looking at the screen?

It’s true. What we are all experiencing is that a large chunk of our time spent with the doctor (which isn’t that long) is dedicated to administrative work and documentation and a small part is actually dedicated to checking the patient and providing medical explanations.

This feeling is not only our own, we share it with many patients worldwide. Many studies have been performed in an attempt to learn about this phenomenon and quantify the amount of time a doctor dedicates to EMR activity as opposed to the time spent with the patient.

Once a doctor understands the scope of the phenomenon, then the question of how it affects the quality of the treatment, the patient’s experience, and how it can be improved is posed which is then followed by allowing high-quality treatment without affecting the patient’s experience and their feeling throughout the treatment.

One of the recent studies performed in the field has indicated that over 50% of the doctor’s time during every workday is dedicated to documentation and working with EMR. While the remaining time is divided between meetings with patients, staff, breaks, etc.

When trying to understand how we’ve reached this situation, we can see the integration of the EMR systems and the requirements of the health organization management to perform precise documentation of the case, diagnosis, recommendations for treatments, etc. Adding the fear of medical malpractice lawsuits and a doctors’ wish to document every piece of information to be able to protect themselves in case needed. Another factor is the lack of time doctors have during each visit and often patients wish to receive a prescription or referral and be on their way. And above all, all these EMR systems are often not well adapted to the doctor’s comfort, treatment process flow, and sometimes have information overload that makes the doctor’s documentation job that much more difficult and slow.

There are different opinions as to how good the situation is. There are those who claim it to be intolerable and claim it must be altered while others claim it’s perfectly normal and considering the time the doctor has at their disposal they are able to perform the documentation work and provide the client with satisfactory treatment. That being said, even those who believe the current situation is proper would, without a doubt, not object to a simpler and more convenient documentation process that would take less of their time and allow them to use the time to study patients’ cases better, examine an article or two on the topic or even pick up the phone and see how their chronic patients are doing.

There are many directions to proposals and solutions in this field, the field of voice recognition has been gaining popularity in many fields and is starting to take its first steps into the medical world. There are different ventures for the implementation of voice recognition technologies that would turn voice into text in order to assist doctors and save them the time spent on typing. There are also varied applications connected to the EMR system that allow a thinner user interface that is simpler, thus allowing fast and more fluid work. And there are additional and varied directions being explored.

The one I believe in the most is building the EMR system that already exists which is intended to provide service to its users who are not only doctors but rather the entire medical and administrative staff.

The adapted system that firstly serves the users and not the legal advisors and the regulation (without any disrespect intended) is, in my opinion, the one that will improve the quality of the treatment, the face-to-face time of the doctor facing the patient, and the satisfaction of all parties.

Attached are links for two articles with more details on some relevant researches:



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