Are doctors spending too much time on paperwork? According to CNBC, medical bills are the number one reason for Americans to declare bankruptcy — overtaking credit card bills and unpaid house mortgages. The medical coding, billing, and collection process is long, complicated, and sometimes even left unresolved. Many argue that medical coding and billing is taking up too much of doctors’ time — time that may otherwise be spent diagnosing and caring for patients. How many hours do doctors devote to paperwork, and what are some alternatives?
Doctors Lost in Piles of Paperwork
The New York Times reports, “Paperwork, or documentation, takes up as much as a third of a physician’s workday; and for many practicing doctors, these administrative tasks have become increasingly intolerable, a source of deteriorating professional morale.” Daunting stacks of paperwork overwhelm already overworked doctors. “Having become physicians in order to work with patients, doctors instead find themselves facing piles of charts and encounter and billing forms, as well as the innumerable bureaucratic permutations of dozens of health insurance companies,” The New York Times adds. There are, however, alternatives that may save doctors’ time and improve patients’ healthcare.
Solutions: The Good and the Bad
Doctors can take a break from charts, physicians billing, and paperwork — and get back to patient care — by implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems. Doctors, however, should approach the shift with caution. With electronic systems, “A doctor’s note turns into a cut-and-paste collage instead of an accurate and personalized narrative of illness; and documentation becomes an electronic and potentially dangerous version of the game ‘Telephone,’” The New York Times warns.
Doctors can improve these systems — and the quality of paperwork overall — by hiring medical billing specialists. Medical billing specialists have the opportunity to devote more time to coding and billing; some medical billing services specialize in particular areas, such as MRI billing or radiology billing, while others provide comprehensive services.
Coding, billing, and stacks of paperwork overwhelm today’s doctors, and take their focus off patient care. Hospitals and physician’s offices can correct this problem by adopting convenient electronic systems and employing medical billing specialists to verify charts, files, and invoices.