Allocation of physician time in ambulatory practice: a time and motion study in four specialties.
Time spent with the electronic health record and performing administrative tasks has been linked to physician burnout, an important patient safety problem. This study used direct observation and time diaries to characterize the work of outpatient physicians. Investigators found that physicians spent about one-quarter of their time face-to-face with patients. Nearly half their work day was spent using the electronic health record and doing desk work. Participating clinicians spent 1–2 additional hours on the electronic health record at night. A PSNet interview with lead author Christine Sinsky calls for improving physician work satisfaction in order to improve patient safety.