Are we “mind numbing” our doctors?

It’s no secret that doctors face a lot of stress and rigorous challenges. From the moment they start medical school, they are put through the ringers and tested physically and emotionally.

However, what you may not know is that physicians are spending hours of their time filling out paperwork, in addition to doing everything else like visiting and caring for their patients.

If you’ve ever filled out paperwork you know how mind numbing it can be. On average, our physicians are spending over 15.5 hours per week on paperwork and administration.

“Our physicians are facing 27-hour days, and a huge chunk of that time is spent doing paperwork. This work is tedious and mind numbing, and it is also mostly avoidable. We need to be asking ourselves if we are okay with mind numbing our doctors with a senseless overload of unnecessary paperwork and if not, how we can change it,” explains Sarah M. Worthy, CEO of DoorSpace.

One way to do that? By getting healthcare organizations to step into the 21st century.

“On top of the two hours of patient documentation a physician has for every one hour they spend treating patients – physicians also have almost 9 hours per week of non-patient related paperwork. A lot of what constitutes a physician’s paperwork is writing down the same information repeatedly. The bulk of that time spent on non-patient related paperwork can easily be automated by moving to a centralized data-management system.The reality is that our doctors and other healthcare clinicians shouldn’t be having to work a part-time job to fill out redundant paperwork. We need to be focusing on solutions that get doctors out from behind their computers.”

This overwhelming paperwork burden has significant consequences for both doctors and patients. Excessive administrative tasks can lead to burnout among physicians, which in turn affects the quality of patient care. Burnout is not just about feeling tired or overwhelmed; it’s a profound emotional and physical exhaustion that can lead to decreased job satisfaction, higher turnover rates, and even impacts patient safety. The constant juggling between patient care and administrative tasks means less time for direct patient interaction, which is essential for building trust and understanding in the doctor-patient relationship.

The current system puts a strain on the healthcare system as a whole. The time and resources spent on managing paperwork could be redirected towards patient care and improving healthcare facilities. It’s a significant financial burden too, with hospitals and clinics spending a substantial portion of their budget on administrative tasks. This inefficiency leads to higher healthcare costs for patients and insurance providers, making it a broader economic issue.

To address this challenge, there’s a growing push for the adoption of advanced technology solutions in healthcare. AI and ML can play a pivotal role in automating routine tasks, such as filling out forms and processing patient information. These technologies can reduce errors, save time, and ultimately allow doctors to focus more on patient care. Additionally, telemedicine and digital health records can streamline the patient care process, making it more efficient and patient-friendly. It’s clear that for the betterment of both healthcare providers and patients, a shift towards a more technologically advanced and less paperwork-intensive healthcare system is not just desirable, but necessary.

The excessive paperwork in healthcare is more than just a nuisance; it’s a critical issue that affects the wellbeing of doctors and the quality of patient care. The current state of affairs, where doctors spend disproportionate amounts of time on administrative tasks, is unsustainable and counterproductive to the goals of healthcare. Embracing technological advancements like AI, ML, and digital health systems offers a viable solution to this challenge. By reducing the paperwork load, we can not only alleviate physician burnout but also enhance the efficiency and quality of healthcare services. This shift is not just about keeping up with the times; it’s about recentering our healthcare system on its most important component – the human element. The future of healthcare must focus on empowering doctors to do what they do best: providing excellent care to their patients, unburdened by unnecessary administrative hurdles.