Gregory Schmidt, MD has a really fascinating post on his site that looks at how much time and money is lost with doctors waiting to login to their EHR. Here’s his high level findings:
a. It costs about $15 each time an ER physician logs into a computer
b. During an eight hour shift, an ER physician may spend up to an hour waiting on computers
c. A single ER may lose a million dollars of productivity annually from slow computers.
You can read the full post to see his methodology and the assumptions he made. Most of it looks pretty reasonable to me except for how long it takes for doctors to login to their EHR.
Based on my experience, the 2-5 minute estimate per login is high for most organizations. Yes, if you are running an environment where you have to login to the full O/S and then to the EHR, these estimates could be pretty good. However, those estimates seem very high for doctors that just need to login to their EHR. If it takes you 2-5 minutes to login to your EHR, then that’s a really poorly designed system.
Of course, the other solution that I see a lot of doctors use is some sort of portable laptop or tablet. This means that their login time is very little other than when they first start their day. The cons are that you have to lug a laptop around and in the hospital environment, they often don’t give everyone a laptop. You’d think they could all just carry tablets, but so far the EHR data entry on tablets has rarely been good.
This point aside, even if it takes 1-2 minutes to login to your EHR, that still is a ton of time wasted just logging into your EHR. This is particularly expensive in an environment where you have shared computers and so you have to often log people off and log yourself back in and the EHR systems largely don’t remember where you were previously.
Unfortunately I don’t see us doing much about this. I’ve seen some biometric solutions that make this a little bit better. So, that’s one solution that could help. The other key is to make sure the EHR vendor has optimized the login process. It reminds me of when I use to login to a Windows computer. Back in the day you knew to just log it in and then go get some breakfast or coffee while you waited. Windows 10 still isn’t perfect, but it’s gotten way better. I love my Chromebook because it’s nearly instant. We likely need to go through this same progression with EHR logins.
An EHR login seems like such a small thing. Everyone has it and it’s not likely something that you evaluated when you selected your EHR. Yet, as Dr. Schmidt points out, it can add up to a lot of lost money and time.