Doctors spend 2 weeks each year on ‘obscene waste’ paperwork

health-costsA bombshell study reveals that doctors waste almost two full work weeks each year explaining to regulators how they practice medicine.

The time spent on this paperwork robs doctors from seeing nine patients each week. One health care CEO labels it an “obscene waste,” especially because multiple reports ask for the same things. Medical staff spend even more time on the paperwork than the doctors themselves.

The Health Affairs journal study attributes the red tape to federal Medicaid and Medicare regulations, plus private insurers. But most blame was heaped on federal requirements.

Only quality control reports were studied, not the other massive health care red tape. By themselves, the quality control reports consumed 785 hours per physician, representing $40,000 per doctor in non-productive time each year, totaling $15.4 billion nationwide. 

The Physician Foundation financed the study of 394 medical clinics, focusing on cardiology, orthopedics, primary care, and multispecialty practices. The authors agree quality measurement is important, but conclude “the current system is unnecessarily costly.”

Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, commented, “On top of the obscene waste of billions of dollars each year on quality measures, the most alarming thing about this study is that nearly three-fourths of the groups reported that the quality measures are not even clinically relevant.” 

“This study proves that the current top-down approach has failed,” Fischer-Wright said. “It serves no purpose to have over three thousand competing measures of quality across government and private initiatives. . . . the federal government needs to get out of the business of dictating patient care through wasteful mandates and create simplified systems.”

 

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