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Reducing physician burden starts with four key changes.

Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(3):21-25

This content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial relationships.

work after clinic

Burnout rates among physicians continue to rise. In the 2023 Medscape Physician Burnout and Depression Report, 57% of family medicine physicians reported feeling burnt out — up 10 percentage points in five years.1 Among all specialties, 53% of physicians reported burnout. The top contributor was “too many bureaucratic tasks,” such as paperwork and charting requirements. Too many working hours and the increasing computerization of practice were also cited as key causes.

A prior study helped quantify this burden. It showed that family physicians spent an average of 5.9 hours of an 11.4-hour workday in the electronic health record (EHR), with an average of nearly 90 minutes of “pajama time” (work outside of normal working hours) per day.2

Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General called on health systems, insurers, government agencies, and others to implement system-level changes to address health worker burnout.3 But many of us are looking for more immediate ways to alleviate this burden. To address this need in my practice, part of my time is dedicated to working one-on-one with primary care physicians and advanced practice providers to find meaningful ways to improve clinical workflows and optimize use of the EHR to decrease their pajama time and reduce burnout. We cannot fix everything, so we focus on what we can control. This article shares the top four tips that work for us again and again, and some lessons we've learned about the process.

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