Reducing the paperwork burden on primary care

Of the many obstacles facing primary care, the sheer amount of paper stands out as one of the most burdensome.

There are studies that show that every hour of clinical care generates an additional hour of paperwork. In fact, as Better Health’s Val Jones recently notes, one-third of a primary care doctor’s income is spent on paperwork.

It’s no wonder that the PCP burnout rate is so high, and why so few medical students find primary care appealing.

One solution would be to standardize the forms that private insurers use, which would greatly simplify the administrative burden that offices face.

Or, you can do what Val did, and join a practice that doesn’t take insurance. The practice, DocTalker Family Medicine, simplifies payment for patients, charging them hourly. It only costs $25 per patient per month to offer comprehensive primary care, mostly because of the savings wrung from having almost 90 percent less administrative staff.

We’ll see if a model like this can take off – I’d be curious to see how it does in Medicare and Medicaid-predominant populations – but it did attract the attention of CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who did a story on the practice.

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