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Burnout prevention: get rid of “stupid stuff” in your practice

A chaotic practice environment is contributing to high rates of physician burnout, which health care organizations need to address through system changes, but there are simple, no-cost steps all physicians can take to help “get rid of stupid stuff”1 in their practices.

1. Lengthen prescriptions for chronic medications. Refill requests can be a huge time waster. If you're in the habit of authorizing prescriptions for 90 days, consider a one-year authorization instead (but continue to see your patients at the same frequency so you can monitor their care and medication use). By using longer prescription lengths, you and your staff will save time due to fewer phone calls and messages related to refill requests.

2. Start ordering pre-visit labs. Asking patients to get their lab work completed in advance of the office visit means you’ll have recent lab results on hand during the office visit, which will improve the encounter and save time by avoiding call-backs after the visit.

3. Ask your IT staff to simplify logins. Does your electronic health record (EHR) system require you to attest to a privacy policy each time you log on, prompt you to reenter your password each time you refill a prescription, or automatically sign you out after five minutes, requiring you to sign in more than once during a visit? These security measures are not necessary in most states and can be adjusted or turned off by IT staff if you ask.

4. Reroute patient portal messages. Messages should be triaged by staff, and only those issues requiring a physician should be brought to your attention. If your system isn’t set up to work this way, contact your IT staff for help.

5. Leverage your EHR. Ask a colleague for one time-saving EHR tip each week. For example, in some systems, typing “.risk” autopopulates the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) calculator for the current patient, or typing “sob” autopopulates “shortness of breath.”

1. Ashton M. Getting rid of stupid stuff. N Engl J Med. 2018;3791789–1791. Accessed Oct. 3, 2019.


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