How This Technology Is Making Doctors Hate Their Jobs

Chances are that your doctor feels like a glorified data entry clerk.

CHRISTINA FARR 07.19.16 5:58 AM

Original Article Published on


Example of an Actual EMR System

Matthew Walvick is a doctor. But until recently, when he left a large hospital to work at a startup, he felt like his day was utterly consumed with data entry.

Walvick, a former internal medicine physician at John Muir Health, recalls spending endless hours checking boxes and filling out charts on the hospital’s electronic medical record system. As soon as he returned home after an exhaustive day, he’d hit refresh and be faced with yet more computer work—much to the dismay of his family.

It wasn’t all that long ago that doctors’ records consisted of scrawling handwritten notes in a binder. The transition from paper-based systems to digital ones kicked off in 2009, under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, which incentivized providers to adopt electronic medical records. That law took effect in January of 2011.

This technology was supposed to reduce inefficiencies, make doctors’ lives easier, and improve patient outcomes. The only problem? Many hospitals spent millions (and sometimes, billions) on systems that weren’t designed to help their providers treat patients.

“Frankly, the main incentive is to document exhaustively so you cover your ass and get paid,” says Jay Parkinson, a New York-based pediatrician and the founder of health-tech startup Sherpaa.



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