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EMR Reveals "Actual Work of Primary Care"

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog—one of our recommended reads—does an excellent job of itemizing and outing the “invisible” work in the typical day of a primary care doctor. It lays out the phone calls, emails, refills, paperwork and other such tasks that keep doctors from patients. 

The recent post is based on a report in the New England Journal of Medicine by Richard J. Baron, M.D. entitled, “What's Keeping Us So Busy in Primary Care? A Snapshot from One Practice.” At his five physician internal medicine practice in Philadelphia, he used an electronic health record through 2008 to log practice work outside the exam room and found his doctors swamped with information management.

It concludes:

At a time when the primary care system is collapsing and U.S. medical-school graduates are avoiding the field, it is urgent that we understand the actual work of primary care and find ways to support it. Our snapshot reveals both the magnitude of the challenge and the need for radical change in practice design and payment structure

We couldn’t agree more!

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