Physician Burnout Statistics: Not Enough Hours in the Day for Doctors

“Time is money” and “There is not enough time in a day,” are statements that resonate among a vast number of professionals, especially physicians who are battling against the clock to see the number of patients they are loaded with and keep up with all the administrative tasks and charting that each encounter comes with. As health informatics grows, and the need for interoperability increases[1], electronic health records (EHRs) are a necessary evil.


It is unrealistic though to assume that a physician who sees 20 patients in a day can also complete accurate charting all in 1 clinical shift on EHR’s.


Let’s break down why doctors don’t have enough time:

There are 480 minutes in an 8-hour day. If you count two 15-minute breaks, the total goes down to 450 minutes. Primary care physicians (PCPs), for example, spend on average 18 minutes[2] with patients (not taking into account new patients). If a physician sees 20 patients in the clinical day, it would equal 360 minutes, which leaves only 90 minutes (1.5 hours) to complete all the documentation for the 20 patient visits from start to finish accurately! *This of course doesn’t take into account if the physician takes a call or uses the bathroom outside of the two 15-minute breaks.


A recent study calculated that a PCP spends on average 16 active mins on the EHR per patient encounter, including chart review, documenting, coding, and sending orders, labs, and medications out.[3] *It is important to note that this number doesn’t take into account reviewing evidence-based resources, answering physician calls, and checking their inboxes and other administrative tasks that are not “active.” It also doesn’t take into account a physician who is not efficient at navigating their EHR system or has more complex patients.


So, by using this information we can easily calculate how unrealistic charting for 20 patients after seeing the 20 patients in an 8-hour clinical day is:

Physician burnout statistics chart

Eye-Opening Physician Burnout Statistics

In 2020, physician burnout statistics were at 48%[4] and now, physician burnout rates have increased by 13% to an alarming 61% in 2021[5]. There are a number of causes and symptoms of physician burnout, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the top of the list over the years has always been the same[6]:


  1. Having too many bureaucratic tasks
  2. Spending too many hours at work
  3. Increasing computerization of the practice
  4. Insufficient reimbursement
  5. Other often-mentioned burnout causes, including malpractice, family stress, and insurance issues


Given that almost 4 extra hours are needed in a day for a physician to do their job, it is no wonder that these “causes” have been consistent over the years!


Hospital leaders are slowly realizing this “uncomfortable” truth. Two popular tools that leaders have utilized to decrease the documentation burden are through the use of live medical scribes and dictation and transcription services. Look out for the next blog that will break down the two tools with a side-by-side comparison to see which would best fit your specialty practice.




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