The United States is facing a critical physician shortage, and the healthcare industry is scrambling to solve it. Medical schools are training more physicians and states are expanding nurse practitioner scope of practice rules.
However, two physicians believe that part of the problem can be solved with better workflows and more efficient processes. They go so far as to say it could translate into 30-40 million more visits each year. Scott Shipman, MD, and Christine A. Sinsky, MD, estimate that physicians waste an average of 30 minutes each day, and nurses waste 60 minutes per physicians per day due to inefficiency.
In their article “Expanding Primary Care Capacity By Reducing Waste And Improving The Efficiency Of Care“, the authors say simply placing a printer in every exam room could save each physician 20 minutes per day. “Very little attention is paid to opportunities to get more out of our current workforce, not by working harder, but by working more efficiently,” Shipman told HealthLeaders Media. Other suggestions for improving efficiency include:
- Teamwork and delegation. Research suggests other staff members could perform tasks that consume 15% of the time physicians spend on patient care outside of visits.
- Better communication. Having physicians work alongside the healthcare team throughout the day facilitates “real-time” communication, which can save a physician 30 minutes each day.
- Streamlined technology. Cumbersome technology policies, such as having a computer automatically sign out a user for security reasons or requiring users to sign in recurrently bogs down physician productivity and wastes valuable time.
Shipman expands on his thoughts about physician efficiency in his interview with HealthLeaders Media. It’s worth a read.