Reduce Administrative Burden to Lower Burnout by Specialty

July 1, 2022


The following is based on athenahealth’s Physician Sentiment Survey: a sample of 743 practicing physicians across specialties who completed an athenahealth survey conducted by Harris Poll in January 2022, in addition to 15 in-depth qualitative interviews with survey respondents.

Physicians are split into two categories when it comes to their opinions on the state of healthcare: those who report being optimistic about the future of medicine (healthcare optimists) and those who do not (healthcare pessimists).

Some specialties report higher optimism thank others

While there is overlap between certain specialties, organizations, burnout rates, and attitudes, none of it is mutually exclusive.

Overlap between burnout, optimism and organization

What is driving physicians’ perspectives? How will their outlooks impact the industry tomorrow?

Physicians plans may reflect their optimism, shining a light where organizations can improve

With observationally collected data, it’s hard to demonstrate a causal relationship between the experience of burnout, organizational factors, and individual physicians’ outlook on the future of healthcare.

Certainty of physicians staying at current organization differs by specialty

Causal or not, we know these factors are related — further understanding how they are related, and in which direction, will be crucial in improving the working experience of all physicians.

A solution? Better connectivity… starting with EHRs.

Physicians across the board have one thing in common: they all interact with one or more EHRs. While better connectivity isn’t a cure-all for physician pessimism, take a look at what physicians report wanting from their EHRs. Do they believe change is possible?

Easier patient data sharingPhysicians report regularly struggling to access their patients' data

Improved data connectivity between systems is one of two top physician recommendations that would improve the quality of healthcare they can provide.

Improved data connectivity and information systems


Better data curation

Across healthcare optimists and pessimists, nine out of ten physicians agree that better data about their patients would give them more confidence in their ability to support patient needs.

More data does not always mean better

More data without better management risks increasing already high rates of information overload.

89% of physicians agree right clinical data at the right time is most important


Physicians need better, simplified workflows that curate the most important information while helping them with documentation to meet quality, regulatory, and payer standards.


Organizational support

It isn’t news that physicians are overwhelmed by excessive documentation and administrative requirements.

Most physicians believe that burdens of regulatory requirements are getting worse

What can improve these burnout rates? Our research revealed that when an organization doesn’t take steps to reduce burnout, its physicians are more likely to cite bureaucratic tasks as a consistent cause of burnout. They’re also nearly…

two times as likely to cite government regulations as a barrier to improving connectivity

If organizations take steps to reduce the administrative burden caused by government regulations, data suggests they may modulate physician burnout levels. Where to start? Establishing better cross-EHR patient data connections.

Better connections may convert healthcare pessimists to healthcare optimists.

As a result of the myriad pressures on healthcare professionals, physicians are divided on where the industry is headed, with just over half (52%) saying they are pessimistic about the future of U.S. healthcare and only 48% expressing optimism.



Overall, physicians are optimistic that a wholly connected system will be achieved at some point during their careers, with 71% of younger physicians (age 50 or younger) having a brighter outlook than older physicians (age 50 or older).

Many physicians believe that wholly connected system will be achieved

If a wholly connected system is what brightens physicians’ outlooks, it looks like we’re beginning to tip the scale.

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