COMMENTARY

Oncologists Spend Too Little Time With Patients, Too Much on EHR

Maurie Markman, MD

Disclosures

April 26, 2018

Hello. I am Dr Maurie Markman from Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I want to briefly comment on the recently published Medscape Oncologist Compensation Report for 2018. This report includes a lot of very interesting information related to compensation of medical oncologists, as part of larger reporting on compensation among about 30 medical and surgical specialties.

A couple of items particularly caught my attention and are worthy of comment. The survey asked about the amount of time oncologists spend with individual patients. Of note, almost half, 46%, stated that they spend 16 minutes or less per patient. For some patients, that is a reasonable amount of time. But think about the number of concerns and questions a patient and family may have. If almost half of oncologists say that their average time with a patient is 16 minutes or less, one must say that perhaps that is an issue.

Also note that 43% of oncologists stated that they spend 20 hours or more per week—I repeat, per week—on administrative activities, and 85% overall said that they spend 10 or more hours per week on administrative activities. When you consider the electronic medical record, filling out insurance forms, and so on, one must absolutely ask: Is this an appropriate amount of time? Is it necessary to spend all of this time on administrative activities when almost half of oncologists are spending 16 minutes or less with each patient?

Despite these not very favorable comments about the impact of bureaucracy in medicine in general, and oncology in particular, it is gratifying to note that 83% of oncologists said that they would choose to go into medicine again. When asked whether they would go into the same subspecialty, 96% of the oncologists said they would. This clearly demonstrates the dedication of oncologists to the practice of medicine and oncology, and to cancer patients. I look at this with great pride for my colleagues.

I encourage you to read this report. It includes a lot of very interesting information, some of it fairly sobering. I thank you for your attention.

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