Private Practices

Want to save time in your practice? There’s a playbook for that

Tanya Albert Henry , Contributing News Writer

With 63% of physicians reporting burnout symptoms, chances are physicians in your private practice likely spend way too much time on nonpatient-facing tasks, ones that contribute to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and other signs of professional burnout. 

Keep your practice running

The AMA is fighting to keep private practice a viable option for physicians. We're working to remove unnecessary burdens so physicians can reclaim the time they need to focus on patients. 

The “AMA STEPS Forward® Saving Time Playbook” (PDF) can help your practice reduce burnout by showing you how to go about making positive changes at the organizational level to reduce the time physicians spend on nonpatient-facing tasks that reduce the joy in medicine.

There are highlights from nine AMA STEPS Forward open-access toolkits within the playbook that show you how to be more efficient and work smarter, not harder. The 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.

“Anyone interested in process improvement, time saving workflows, efficiency of practice and physician well-being can benefit from the content outlined and linked to within this playbook,” says the playbook’s introduction. Internists Marie Brown, MD, the AMA’s director of practice redesign, and Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA vice president of professional satisfaction, are among the playbook’s authors.

Reducing physician burnout is a critical component of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.

Far too many American physicians experience burnout. That's why the AMA develops resources that prioritize well-being and highlight workflow changes so physicians can focus on what matters—patient care.

The “Saving Time Playbook” highlights key messages and provides links to free online resources, including toolkits, videos, podcasts and practical tools you can use to initiate change in your practice today. It offers a high-level overview of an area and allows you to choose to dive deeper into a topic at your own pace.

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By implementing changes outlined in the playbook, physicians will have more time to take care of patients and themselves.

  1. Stop doing unnecessary work

    1. Physicians are all too familiar with the additional tasks piled on them resulting from widespread adoption of EHR systems. It’s just one example of unnecessary tasks that have become part of physicians’ and other clinicians’ workloads in the past decade. The playbook can help your private practice save time by learning to eliminate unnecessary tasks and duplicative work, streamline prescribing and management of prescriptions for chronic illnesses, and optimize functional aspects of the EHR for physicians and care teams.
  2. Start sharing the necessary work

    1. By standardizing and streamlining practice fundamentals or core workflows, physicians can save time during and between patient visits. This involves processes such as pre-visit planning, pre-visit laboratory testing, expanding rooming and discharge protocols, as well as team documentation. It can help a clinic run more smoothly and more easily handle unanticipated issues when they arise. The playbook can help save time by learning to use the current visit to prepare for the next, work as a team to increase efficiency of rooming and discharge, and document the visit as a team.
  3. Make the case to leadership

    1. Implementing changes outlined in the AMA STEPS Forward toolkits that are highlighted in the “Saving Time Playbook” translates to lowering costs. Reducing burnout has the potential to reduce the number of physicians who cut clinical hours or leave a practice all together, increase team engagement and morale. Learn how to make the case for change to leaders and discover simple calculators to help show the real dollar savings that can be had by implementing changes.

It takes astute clinical judgement, effective collaboration with colleagues, and innovative approaches to problem-solving to succeed in an independent setting that is often fluid, and the AMA offers the resources and support physicians need to both start and sustain success in private practice.

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These include the AMA Private Practice Simple Solutions series of free, open-access rapid-learning cycles that give you the chance to implement actionable changes that can immediately increase efficiency in your private practice. Each multiweek learning session is focused on one topic area, and you can access pre-recorded content presented by subject-matter experts at a pace and time that works best for you. 

Learn more about the AMA Private Practice Physicians Section, which seeks to preserve the freedom, independence and integrity of private practice.