The introduction of electronic health records (EHRs) has contributed considerably to EHR work outside work (WOW) hours for physicians. Prior research has identified the pressures associated with stress resulting from EHR WOW, yet developing a nuanced understanding of how physicians appraise and respond to this stress, and the resulting impacts, remains absent from the literature.
Grounded in the technostress model, this study takes a qualitative approach to explore both the pressures and opportunities associated with EHR WOW.
Thematic analysis of data from semistructured interviews was utilized to examine the pressures and opportunities associated with EHR WOW among primary care pediatricians (n = 15) affiliated with a large Midwestern pediatric health system.
The physicians in this study regularly spent time working in the EHR outside work hours. They felt the EHR contributed to their documentation burden, which ultimately increased their EHR WOW, and reported a sense of burden from ubiquitous EHR availability. Conversely, they appreciated the flexibility the EHR provided in terms of work–life balance. Suggestions for improvement under the direct purview of practice management included enhanced EHR usability, improvements in workflow during work hours to free up time to document, and more training on both EHR documentation strategies and ongoing software upgrades.
Physicians perceive that the EHR exerts certain pressures while affording new opportunities and conveniences. This study provides evidence of both the pressures and opportunities of EHR WOW and their effect on physician well-being.
Specific opportunities are identified for health administrators to enable physicians to better manage EHR WOW.