Red-flagging and eliminating inefficiencies to improve patient flow may go a long way toward relieving the looming shortage of clinicians in the primary care workforce.
A study in this month's Health Affairs says easily implemented, system-wide changes that save a few minutes here and there during the workday could yield dramatic gains in physician capacity while reducing physician burnout and improving care.
"Very little attention is paid to opportunities to get more out of our current workforce, not by working harder, but by working more efficiently," says study co-author Scott Shipman, MD, a pediatrician and director of primary care affairs and workforce analysis at the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, DC.
See Also: 'Alarming' Physician Shortages Lie Ahead
By some estimates there will be 15 million to 24 million additional primary care visits each year in the near future when millions of people are expected to gain access to health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, further stressing an already overworked primary care clinical workforce.