Info Overload? It Happens to Physicians too!

  • In this day and age of information overload it can sometimes seem like a daunting task just to keep up.  Physicians reportedly have the same problem.  According to a survey in the JAMA Internal Medicine, that covered 2,600 primary care physicians working for the Veterans Administration, it’s actually a fairly big problem.

    Physicians now, almost across the board, use Electronic Health Records.  These records have replaced the written charts that used to be the status quo.  Many of the EHR's are also equipped with built in alerts that help to keep the doctor from making mistakes.  Ironically, it is the overload of information that seems to be causing problems.

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    Over 69% of physicians surveyed said that the EHR distributed more alerts than they were able to handle.  The quantity of alerts were perceived excessive by 89.6% of the physicians.  Most disturbingly, almost one third of physicians said that the information overload caused them to miss results that lead to a delay in proper patient care.

    Physicians are human and will make mistakes.  What does this mean for the average patient?  

    1.  Keep track of your own health records and make sure the information is correct.  Some insurance plans allow you to see what prescriptions have been filled and what tests were run.  

    2. Don't assume the physician has seen your entire history.  They may do a skim through of the information before speaking with you but if there is something pertinent in your history be sure to bring it up.  

    3.  Do not assume that "no news is good news".  One third of physicians admit to missing results that delayed proper care.  Don't let the patient that suffers be you!  The day your testing is done ask your physician when to expect the results.  If you don't hear from your physician's office with in the allotted time frame, or do not have a follow-up visit to discuss your results, call and ask for them.

    If you spend a little extra time being proactive you can help to avoid any of the issues caused by physicians with information overload.

Published On: June 05, 2013