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Skilled primary care physicians spend an inordinate amount of time doing mundane tasks. Why?

Fam Pract Manag. 2024;31(1):4

I recently was talking to a colleague who was about to visit The Camden Coalition — an organization devoted to improving the health and well-being of people with complex medical needs by promoting fair and comprehensive care.1 I recalled attending a lecture by the group’s founder, Jeffrey Brenner, MD, a primary care physician, more than 10 years earlier. It was one of the first times I truly grasped the value of team-based care.

He asked a series of questions:

“Raise your hand if you order mammograms.”

“Raise your hand if you’ve gotten the results of those mammograms.”

“Raise your hand if you’ve seen normal mammograms.”

I sat in the back of the room (my usual location) and wondered where he was going with this. Then came the hook — “Why?”

Why, he wondered out loud, would a room full of experienced clinicians spend valuable time tracking down a bunch of normal results, when what we really want to do is act on the abnormal ones?

This was eye opening for me. Why am I clicking through the chart looking for the last mammogram, when my staff could do that? Why am I the one ordering influenza vaccines for each patient when everyone over six months old needs one? The list goes on and on.

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