The “AMA STEPS Forward® Saving Time Playbook” (PDF) can help physicians and health systems reduce physician burnout by working smarter—not harder—and reducing the nonpatient-facing tasks that contribute to physicians’ emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

Membership fights burnout

The AMA is tackling the key causes of burnout through advocacy, research and the development of resources. Join the movement to fight burnout and help us provide relief for physicians.

In addition to offering highlights from nine AMA STEPS Forward open-access toolkits, the Saving Time Playbook guides physicians on how to make a case to their organizations’ leadership as to why they should invest the time and effort into helping eliminate unnecessary tasks contributing to physician burnout.

This third and final section of the playbook helps identify key messages that can be conveyed to leaders to help them understand the value of a physician’s time. It also provides interactive calculators to give numbers to back up their arguments with dollars and cents.

Learn more by reading, “Want to save time in your practice? There’s a playbook for that” and “8 ways to save hours each day in your physician practice.”

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The time-saving measures in the playbook—things such as following a de-implementation checklist (PDF), simplifying medication management and taming the EHR—have the potential to do five things that matter to leaders deciding whether to support these changes in the organization. They are:

  • Reducing the number of physicians who decrease their clinical hours to part time, which may also lead to increased burnout among their colleagues.
  • Improving overall patient volume and access, two things that increase patient satisfaction and quality of care.
  • Increasing team engagement using team-based care approaches, which translates into improved team morale, better continuity of care, higher performance on quality metrics and decreased turnover for staff members.
  • Improving organizational culture, which may make it easier to recruit new physicians and team staff members when necessary.
  • Reducing physician turnover within the organization, a financial savings because it can cost two to three times a physician’s salary to replace them when they leave.

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Calculating dollars and cents

Sample calculators from AMA STEPS Forward toolkits help physicians implement time-saving techniques, as well as estimate the cost of burnout and physician turnover. The interactive, online calculators allow organizations and practices to input their own numbers to get specific results.

Read more about three things that health care organizations can calculate

  1. Savings from annual prescription renewals

    1. Plug in the number of patients a physician sees, the average number of medications for each patient, the average number of calls made per year and the average amount of time spent per call to find out how many minutes your practice spends a year on medication renewal calls. From there, you’ll get an estimate of how many hours a day each physician will save and how much that equates to dollar-wise annually if your practice were to switch to a system that renews all of a patient’s long-term medications once a year.
  2. Savings from pre-visit laboratory testing

    1. Enter separately the dollars it costs per minute for a physician’s time and a staff member’s time, as well as the number of clinic days per year. The calculator will show the estimated time saved per day—along with how many days that equates to annually—and the money saved per year when patient laboratory tests are ordered ahead of time. This method allows a patient to complete the labs before the next appointment. It also allows the patient and physician to have a face-to-face conversation about the results and care options at the next, already scheduled, visit.
  3. The costs of physician burnout for your organization

    1. Put in the number of physicians in your organization, their rate of burnout, your organization’s cost of turnover and current physician turnover rate. The calculator will tell you the number of physicians turning over due to burnout annually, the estimated cost of that turnover, the estimated savings from burnout intervention and more.

The “Saving Time Playbook” is part of the AMA STEPS Forward program that offers innovative strategies that allow physicians and their staff to thrive in the new health care environment. These resources can help you prevent physician burnout, create the organizational foundation for joy in medicine and improve practice efficiency. 

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