US Doctors Grappling With Burnout See A.I As A Big Help In The Future

By Thea Felicity

Feb 21, 2024 02:15 PM EST

(Photo : Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images)
Vice-director Marcio Sawamura works at the Radiology Institute of the Clinics Hospital of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sao Paulo (InRad), in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 29, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. - A platform called RadVid-19 that identifies lung injuries through artificial intelligence is helping Brazilian doctors detect and diagnose the new coronavirus, which already infected 2,6 million people across the world and killed 91,000 in the country. (

In a survey reported by CNBC, which was commissioned by Athenahealth, over 90% of 1,003 U.S doctors are experiencing "regular burnouts."

Excessive administrative tasks emerge as a primary cause, with 64% of doctors feeling overwhelmed by paperwork. This burden has led more than 60% of physicians to contemplate leaving the medical field altogether, indicating a serious workforce retention issue.

To cope with their demanding workloads, doctors are spending an average of 15 extra hours per week on tasks outside of regular hours, a phenomenon referred to as "pajama time." Furthermore, nearly 60% of respondents express dissatisfaction with the lack of sufficient in-person time with patients, while over 75% feel inundated by patients' communication demands outside of scheduled visits.

The survey also highlights organizational challenges, with 78% of physicians citing poor staff retention and shortages as significant issues. Additionally, less than 40% feel confident in their employer's financial stability.

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AI for Doctors

Despite these challenges, 83% of doctors believe that AI could alleviate some of their burdens by streamlining administrative tasks, enhancing diagnostic accuracy, and identifying patterns in patient data. 

However, concerns about the potential loss of human touch in healthcare and the role of AI in the diagnosis process persist among many physicians.

Nevertheless, a significant portion of survey participants view AI as part of the solution rather than the problem, indicating optimism about the role of technology in healthcare improvement. 

Dr. Nele Jessel, Chief Medical Officer of Athenahealth states that the ultimate role of technology in healthcare is to reduce administrative burdens and improve the efficiency of physicians to refocus on patient care.

While AI is not a panacea for healthcare challenges, the survey suggests that it instills hope for the future among some doctors. Around 37% of AI optimists believe that the healthcare field is ultimately progressing in the right direction, underscoring the potential of technology to impact healthcare delivery positively.

READ MORE: VSS' Jeffrey Stevenson on the Digital Transformation in the Healthcare Sector

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