American College of Physicians: Decrease administrative tasks to improve patient safety

In a new position paper, the American College of Physicians argues administrative tasks are detrimental to patient care and presents a framework to determine if such tasks can be revised or eliminated.

The paper, "Putting Patients First by Reducing Administrative Tasks in Health Care: A Position Paper of the American College of Physicians," was published in Annals of Internal Medicine this month.

"There are a growing number of administrative responsibilities that physicians are subject to, due to regulations, insurer requirements and other factors. These tasks are a diversion of physicians' and their staff's time and focus away from more clinically important activities, such as providing actual care to patients and improving quality," said Nitin Damle, MD, president of ACP, in a statement.

The paper provides seven recommendations to reduce "excessive administrative tasks." Those recommendations include the following.

1. Payers, the government and oversight organizations that develop administrative tasks should release financial, time and quality-of-care impact statements for those tasks. Tasks that have a negative effect on care quality or increase costs should be challenged, revised or removed.

2. Tasks that cannot be eliminated completely should be reviewed regularly and streamlined with the goal of minimizing burden.

3. Stakeholders should collaborate with clinicians, EHR vendors, patients and professional societies to design performance measures that reduce unnecessary burden on clinicians.

4. Stakeholders should collaborate to better use health IT to eliminate, align or streamline existing tasks.

5. Stakeholders should reduce or eliminate "duplicative administrative requirements."

6. Research should be conducted to find the effect administrative tasks have on care quality and cost; on physicians, other clinicians and staff; on patient outcomes; and on the patient experience.

7. Research should be conducted to find best practices to reduce administrative burden on clinicians.

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