How many clicks does it take…?

December 8th, 2017

How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of the Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.

But we do know how many clicks in an electronic medical record (EMR) it takes for clinicians to perform even the most basic tasks. And if you aren’t one of the millions of clinicians who use an EMR every day, the answers may surprise you. 

How many clicks to get a flu shot?

One doctor found out that using her practice’s EMR system, it takes 32 clicks to order and record a single flu shot. Maybe 32 clicks doesn’t sound like a lot, but in some practices only a doctor is allowed to enter the order, leaving them to record flu shots in the EMR for more than 1,000 patients by themselves. 

How many clicks to work for an hour in the emergency department?

A 2013 study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine recorded and analyzed how physicians used their EMRs at an Allentown, PA, emergency department. The average total number of mouse clicks for a ten-hour shift was 4,000. Doctors spent more time on EMR work (44%) than they did on any single activity in the ER, including spending time with patients (28%). 


How many clicks to complete an average patient visit?

Arcadia Healthcare Solutions used EMR analytics data to create an infographic demonstrating how a doctor’s average day might go, including 24 patient visits, 2,541 clicks, and 16 hours of nearly non-stop work. On average, each patient visit took 106 clicks
A second infographic shows an aggregation of months of provider visits tracked via EMR and graphed on an axis of “number of clicks per patient” and “documentation quality.” Most of the patient visits had high numbers of clicks, although number of clicks did not always correlate with documentation quality.



How many clicks does it take to sign out of the EMR?

This tweet from a frustrated doctor on Twitter shows how electronic record systems can add insult to injury by forcing doctors to use more than a dozen clicks to sign off. What a waste of time indeed!


How many clicks for an Ambien? 

The wizard of medical song parodies, ZDoggMD, reveals the answer in his video, “EHR State of Mind”: 

What’s the big deal?

So why do clicks matter at all? Each click takes less than a second. There are even people who just click for fun! But even these nanoseconds of time add up when clinicians provide multiple services for each patient. That’s more time the doctor can’t be giving the patient their full attention, or even full eye contact. And it’s more time doctors have to spend after work at home on their computer instead of relaxing, spending time with family, or doing other fulfilling activities. 

We need an electronic record that’s designed with the user in mind, not designed to drive them out of their mind.