Washington D.C.– A “2 for 1” is usually something to celebrate, but in findings from a study published last month by the American College of Physicians, 2:1 represents a growing problem for American physicians. Their study of 57 U.S. physicians in family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, and orthopedics revealed that for every 1 hour that the participants were spending with patients, they were spending almost 2 additional hours on paperwork and EHR system entries. Furthermore, they found that the paperwork was even creeping into the time that was technically in the exam room with patients!

In an opinion piece in Forbes, Bruce Y. Lee attributes this phenomenon to 4 factors:

  1. The growing number of “people” that are involved in a typical practice these days (administration, lawyers, payers, etc.)
  2. The paperwork, forms, and processes are not designed with the user in mind. None integrate smoothly with the real-world physician workflow.
  3. The investment in clerical and administrative support in clinics and hospital systems isn’t matching the need.
  4. No one is really investing in changing the overall operational physician workflow.

Why it matters: 

Because the experience trickles down—to the patient. When more time is spent on administrative duties, there is less time for those extra things like counseling, explaining, comforting, and encouraging. Those extra things that can mean so much in terms of patient success and physician satisfaction. It’s all connected. Bruce’s perspective is that without real intervention—better technology solutions, new administrative support roles, and process changes—the system will continue to get worse until we finally hit a breaking point.


About the Author:

Jeffrey Giermek