The Occupational Side Effects of EHRs

As practices convert from primarily paper-based process to technology based systems, what are the occupational impacts of these changes? How much does the ergonomic design of examination rooms, areas designated for document scanning or the use of desktop, laptop or tablet based computers impact the health of workers? In addition, how does software usability play a role in the development of repetitive strain injuries and if these injuries do occur, what is prevalence and net impact on health provider productivity as more EHR systems are adopted?

At AmericanEHR, we collect detailed data on user satisfaction with a wide range of EHR systems. These data are validated through a comprehensive review process and published once validated as EHR vendor ratings. A number of users also submit narrative feedback on their experiences using their EHRs. Some users complain of additional workload incurred by their use of EHRs with certain processes taking multiple clicks to accomplish.

This got us thinking about the occupational health impacts of these technologies. Some common medical conditions incurred by computer dependent workers include:

  • Eye strain due to long hours looking at a computer monitor;
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from repetitive keying, using a mouse or ergonomic problems in terms of hardware or workspace design;
  • Mental health demands of having to analyse and apply complex data to clinical conditions;
  • Muscular strain and tension due to long work hours using computers.

What is the prevalence of these or other disorders amongst clinicians and their staff who use EHRs on a daily basis?

Do you have an occupational condition related to the use of a computer in a medical practice? Share your experience(s) by clicking on the ‘Comments’ link below

This post is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP does not endorse a specific EHR brand or product and ACP makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein.


One response to "The Occupational Side Effects of EHRs"
  • April 7, 2011
    Tamara Adams

    I have not been able to find the right chair position at my desk while using my laptop to prevent neck strain.

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