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The administrative burden on doctors: what’s it costing your organisation?
Doctor burnout is real and is closely correlated with the administrative burden of the health practitioner. Find out what it's costing your organisation
Increasingly, doctors find themselves spending more and more time on administrative tasks and less time on direct patient care.
Higher patient volumes, electronic health record implementation, fear of litigation, and increasing scrutiny from payers such as medicare and health insurers carries a burden of greater administrative tasks for a doctor. The push to deliver value-based healthcare more efficiently has only contributed to the burden.
In the U.S., administrative work consumes ⅙ of physicians ‘ working hours and lowers their career satisfaction1. Doctors in large practices, those in practices owned by a hospital, and those with financial incentives to reduce services spent more time on administration1.
‘To put it bluntly, physicians spend much more time entering data than talking directly with patients.’
What are these administrative tasks costing your business?
Doctor satisfaction and burnout
Most doctors rate patient care as the most rewarding and meaningful aspect of their job. Yet in the U.S. for every one hour spent with direct patient care, two hours is spent on administrative tasks4.
Doctor burnout is real and is closely correlated with the administrative burden of the health practitioner.
In one study, 79% of physicians rated paperwork and administrative burden as the leading challenge ruining medicine1. Another survey revealed that doctors who spend less than 20 percent of their time on work they find most meaningful (activities such as patient care, research and medical education) are nearly twice as likely to experience burnout symptoms3.
Liberating doctors from medical tasks can lead to better patient-doctor interactions and, in turn, more satisfied patients. As an example, the use of medical scribes to support clinical documentation during clinician encounters with patients has been demonstrated to lead to better doctor- patient interactions. In one study a total of 450 of 735 patients (61.2%) reported that scribes had a positive bearing on their visits; only 2.4% reported a negative bearing5.
Unnecessary or excess administrative tasks reduce focus on more important clinical activities such as direct patient care for physicians and primary care providers. In the case of an imaging specialist or radiologist, excess administrative tasks diverts time away from reporting and risks degrading the quality of the reporting environment of the radiologist. Steps to reduce unnecessary interruptions serve to improve the quality of clinical care.
The financial cost – the bottom line
The simple fact is a doctor’s salary is higher than most (if not all) employees within a healthcare organisation. Where appropriate, therefore, shifting tasks away from the highest paid individuals makes economic sense, whether this be through the use of lower paid clerical staff, or through technological solutions or both.
Liberating higher paid medical staff from the burden of unnecessary administrative tasks improves doctor satisfaction, leads to better patient-doctor interactions, better quality care and can lead to cost savings within your organisation.
- Int J Health Serv 2014;44(4):635-42.
- Webreference: https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/whats-ruining-medicine-physicians-paperwork-and-administrative-burdens
- Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(10):990-995.
- Ann Intern Med 2016 Dec 6;165(11):753-760. doi: 10.7326/M16-0961. Epub 2016 Sep 6.
- JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(11):1467-1472.