by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Paperwork. Paperwork. And more paperwork. Turns out doctors are buried in it, as Bruce Lee explains at forbes.com.
Led by Christine Sinsky, MD, at the American Medical Association, the study followed 57 U.S. physicians in family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology and orthopedics for a total of 430 hours. In addition, 21 physicians completed after-hours diaries. The results? Physicians spent 27% of their time in their offices seeing patients and 49.2% of their time doing paperwork, which includes using the electric health record (EHR) system. Even when the doctors were in the examination room with patients, they were spending only 52.9% of the time talking to or examining the patients and 37.0% doing…you guessed it… paperwork. Moreover, the doctors who completed the after-hours diaries indicated that they were spending one to two hours each night doing — drum roll please — paperwork (or the EHR).
So what’s it mean to you?
Studies have shown that physician dissatisfaction affects patient care and thus patient satisfaction. For instance, a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine of 11 general internal medicine practices in the greater-Boston area demonstrated that patients of more satisfied physicians also were more satisfied with their health care. Makes sense. Just like you don’t want to have a pissed-off chef, lawyer or airplane pilot.
Burnout and dissatisfaction is a big problem for doctors. That’s why some of them are ditching the traditional insurance-based practice model and adopting direct primary care. As Katherine Restrepo explains, DPC benefits doctors and patients.