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Female Physicians Spend More Time on Electronic Health Records than Their Male Counterparts

Female Physicians Spend More Time on Electronic Health Records

For female physicians, 2019 marked a monumental achievement. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), that was the first year in which the majority of U.S. medical school students (50.5%) were women. This tracks with years of a steady rise in women as a percentage of the physician workforce, which increased from 28.3% in 2007 to 36.3% in 2019.

Yet, while that gender imbalance has been overcome, another has been revealed, and it may have a significant impact on job satisfaction and career lengths for female physicians. According to a cross-sectional study published in JAMA Network Open, when it comes to the amount of time spent on clinical documentation, women physicians are putting in much more time than male physicians.

The study, "Gender Differences in Time Spent on Documentation and the Electronic Health Record in a Large Ambulatory Network," reports that women physicians spend 41 more minutes daily on overall EHR time. This includes ten more minutes spent working during nonscheduled hours and 31 more minutes writing notes.

The study looked at 2018–2019 EHR data for 318 physicians in a New England ambulatory practice network. Of those physicians, 194 were men, and 124 were women. The women physicians were younger, more represented in primary care specialties, and cared for significantly fewer patients per hour and month. Yet, they still spent more time on EHR than their male counterparts.

Documentation Burden Contributing to Physician Burnout and Other Problems

According to a New York Times analysis, working in EHR systems is a growing source of frustration for clinicians. Some studies show that, on average, nurses and doctors spend 50 percent of their work day "treating the screen, not the patient." This is before adding the time they spend finishing documentation at home. The documentation burden has been linked to clinician burnout, depression, substance abuse and suicidality. So, the finding that female physicians spend more time on documentation than their male counterparts is striking and implies that, as a group, they are at a much higher risk.

For the study authors, the findings "suggest that women physicians may benefit from policy changes, workflows, and technologies that reduce documentation and paperwork burdens, including scribes, team documentation, and artificial intelligence-powered solutions."

The Time-Saving Impact of Virtual Medical Scribes

Offloading the responsibility of EHR documentation is an increasingly common strategy for time-stressed physicians and one that provides significant upside. A recent 15-month observational study found that using a medical scribe decreased documentation time per patient by 3-minutes 28-seconds and that clinicians' estimates of their time spent in the EHR decreased by 1.2 hours per clinic session. Furthermore, Studies of virtual medical scribe services, which capitalize on the efficiencies of remote professionals and secure technology, have shown that using a Virtual Scribe can free up an extra 10 hours per week, on average.

Already challenged by issues of work-family balance and pay inequality, female physicians can ill afford the extra time they are spending on EHR documentation. Fortunately, solutions addressing the documentation burden can go a long way to streamlining physician workloads, improving productivity, reducing stress and adding more time to physicians' days.

To learn more about how you can use virtual scribes to eliminate the hassle of paperwork, save time, and improve patient care, click here.

Physicians Angels is the industry's first Virtual Scribe company, providing real-time documentation directly into the physician's EMR, along with Virtual Back Office services. Our services save the physician an average of 10 hours per week, thereby improving patient throughput and contributing to a better work/life balance for the physician and office staff. To learn more, visit or contact us.

About the author

Physicians Angels

More time for physicians to see more patients, provide better care, and live their lives. Physicians Angels provides one-of-a-kind EMR data management services to healthcare providers through our real time Virtual Scribe service.