A Stitch in Time – A Physician’s Guide to Saving Time

Today’s hustle and bustle proves to be a huge challenge for the majority of the population. From the arduous trials brought about by balancing time for yourself, your family and school or work, you can easily note that time management is as important as it gets. Allowing time for each of the important things in your life is vital in achieving a balanced and healthy social, emotional and personal state.

Given this, if you’re a physician, the word ‘leisure’ may seem to be rare term in your vocabulary.


Being a physician has always been a busy job. A study entitled “Time and the Patient–Physician Relationship” found in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health suggests that physician time is a major factor in the whole process of medication. This is especially true for primary care physicians who set as their goal the delivery and coordination of comprehensive care for patients. Achieving such a goal requires availability, a broad spectrum of medical knowledge, effective use of the local health care system, and attention to both the “big picture” and the details of a patient’s general health.

The life of a physician is mostly a demanding mix of work and education, plus the slightest hint of personal of family time.  If you’re one of them, you would agree that your life may be described as extremely routine-based. You drive to the hospital, and then you put on your scrubs. You may or may not start with looking at the charts and doing your rounds, but most of the time you do. Truth be told, most doctors would likely be burnt out trying to manage what remains of their time.

This is why many studies have been done to try to help physicians become more efficient, just like what a Stanford study did. The method includes you “banking” the time you spend doing the often-unappreciated work of mentoring, serving on committees, covering colleagues’ shifts on short notice or deploying in emergencies, and earn credits to use for work or home-related services.

The simple idea is aimed at addressing a complex challenge: doctors, on average, work 10 hours more every week than other professionals, with nearly 40 percent working 60 hours or more, according to a 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

It shows that 1 in 2 physicians report at least one symptom of being burnout and that they’re twice as dissatisfied with their work-life balance as those in other professions. Within 10 years of joining an academic medical faculty, 5 of every 10 doctors leave, with four leave academic medicine entirely.

doctor checkingt watch

If you’re trying to start on your own in managing time, it can be very frustrating to keep track and be consistent with what you’re doing. It can also be a challenge for you how to bring back the spark in your ride towards a more balanced life.

At the end of it all, you might find the light in your quest to bring back that balance in your life. As such, it is to take note of the different ways, whether big or small, to help physicians save time.

Start Your Work Right on Time

The key factor in every time management plan is starting your day on time. It is important to note what the term “on-time” exactly means. Starting late can cause nuisance for you at work since you have to cope with the time you that could have been used to be more productive. Sadly, this is an accepted fact.

Now, you might begin to wonder – why starting early is bad too?

Researches showed that every minute that you’re earlier than the required time you have to be equates to an overall lack of sleep. Physicians don’t get a lot of sleep to begin with, and this may cause early symptoms of burnout. In fact, physicians may or may not have any at all. Similarly, you would be off-sync with most people at the hospital who start at the specified time.

In a new survey, physicians report that they are not getting the sleep they need to function at their best, and current work schedules may contribute to their inadequate sleep. The survey, issued by the American College of Chest Physicians Sleep Institute (ACCP-SI), shows that most physicians sleep fewer hours than needed for peak performance, and nearly half of physicians believe their work schedules do not allow for adequate sleep. Results further indicated that, when compared to the general population, who sleeps 7-9 hours, physicians take in more caffeine to function in their profession.

This is an alarming fact that may be addressed by regulating the time to start work.

Work Smarter

Dictate your charts. If you belong to the minority of physicians who keep records in longhand, change your ways and dictate your charts. With the time you save, you should be able to see enough additional patients to pay for the service easily. As a bonus, your notes become more complete and more legible.

doctor working on laptop

Immediately after you see a patient, dictate your notes (some physicians even do their dictation in the patient’s presence). Don’t let anything stand in the way of this rule. Dictation takes longer if you are trying to remember the patient’s history or what your plans were even an hour after the encounter, much less at the end of the day. In addition, when the patient encounter is not fresh in your mind, errors are inevitable and may lead to wasted time during the patient’s next visit or call.

Avoid needless breaks. When you are in the office, move directly from one patient to the next. A surprising number of doctors fall into the habit of taking a break between each patient encounter — drinking coffee, making personal phone calls, casually conversing with colleagues and so on. Of course, an occasional break or conversation is necessary, but it shouldn’t be a distractive habit. A doctor who wants to stay on schedule and manage their time must stay on task.

Another thing to note is to always keep yourself busy. Instruct your support staff to keep you busy at all times. All office activities stem from physician activities, either directly or indirectly. If the physician isn’t making good use of his or her time, the practice eventually suffers. Train your staff that it is their responsibility to make sure you always have something productive to do.

Utilize Physician Scheduling Software

While it may seem a drastic method for others, using a Physician Scheduling Software is turning out to be a popular option for new age physicians, and it can provide huge benefits for you. In fact, top medical organizations and physicians across the United States and other countries use this computer integration in their roster, proving to be a vital cog in professional time management processes for doctors.

scheduling software

The best physician scheduling software provides easy to use tools to simplify physician scheduling, pay calculation, and communications for medical professionals. Users all across the nation are reaping the benefits of using it, having up to a resounding 90% time savings in schedule preparation.  The emergence of a more technologically advanced tool has turned out to be a useful practice tool and professional business launch pad.

When time is saved, it automatically follows that you improve retention and workplace morale. Medical and administrative staffers are able to work as one unit. Private practice levels up and becomes more equipped to take on more clients. The bottom line is that time saved through proper organization equates to savings. This ultimately provides improved patient care, all because of the incorporation of a technological advancement to support proper time alignment in the workplace.

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