VA working to reduce physicians' time spent on administrative chores

The Department of Veterans Affairs is updating its messaging system so its primary care physicians will be able to effectively communicate important clinical information and devote more time to patient care.

VA's Inbox Notification system enables physicians to send and receive test results, referrals, medication refills and high-priority messages. However, recently the system has become bogged down with non-urgent and unimportant information, causing physicians to spend far too much time on administrative work.

Specifically, VA estimates that its physicians spend two hours on administrative tasks for every hour they spend with patients, which can propagate fatigue and burnout. Early results of its revamped messaging system shows clinicians now spend an hour and a half less on emails per week.

"The public never sees the excessive amount of e-mails and alerts that take up a doctor’s time," said VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD. "Some of it is necessary, but other emails do nothing to advance patient care and can, in fact, pose a major safety hazard because of lesser important emails. We want our doctors to have the right information they need to provide quality health care to Veterans, and this is a step in the right direction."

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