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ACP calls for continued efforts in reducing excessive physician administrative burden

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. physicians report feeling burned-out, depressed or both, affecting their relationships with patients and colleagues.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Excessive administrative tasks divert physicians' time and focus away from patient care, the American College of Physicians told a Congressional panel this week.

William Fox, MD, an internist at Fox and Brantley Internal Medicine in Charlottesville, Virginia, presented ACP's ideas for how to address the burdensome administrative tasks physicians face to the second Red Tape Relief Initiative roundtable, convened by the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

"We are encouraged that Congress's approach to ridding our healthcare system of red tape will aim to address physician burnout, which is increasingly impacting physicians across the country," said Fox in his remarks.

Indeed, physician burnout has become an increasingly widespread problem in healthcare. Earlier this year, a  Medscape National Report on Physician Burnout and Depression found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. physicians report feeling burned-out, depressed or both, with one in three admitting that their feelings of depression have an impact on how they relate to patients and colleagues.

Physician burnout can hurt the bottom line. Research has shown, for instance, a consistent relationship between higher levels of physician burnout and lower levels of patient safety and quality of care.

ACP launched its Patients Before Paperwork initiative in 2015, which focuses on reinvigorating the patient-physician relationship by ameliorating administrative burdens physicians face in their practices, allowing them to spend more time on patient care.

ACP also published "Putting Patients First by Reducing Administrative Tasks in Health Care: A Position Paper of the American College of Physicians" in 2017, which provides a comprehensive framework for identifying and evaluating administrative tasks. It outlines detailed recommendations to reduce excessive administrative tasks across the healthcare system.

"Patients are physicians' number one priority, but it can be difficult to put them first when we're often faced with large amounts of paperwork and other costly administrative burdens," Fox said.

Twitter: @JELagasse
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