Richard Baron, MD, an internist in a five-provider practice in Philadelphia with roughly 8,500 patients, conducted a year-long study using his practice’s electronic health record system to evaluate the average daily workload of a primary care physician, USA Today reports. Dr. Baron said that the results show the need for a new payment method that accurately reimburses primary care physicians for the actual work they do. Dr. Baron found that on an average workday, each primary care provider in his practice:


  • Saw 18.1 patients
  • Handled 23.7 phone calls
  • Answered 16.8 e-mails, mostly dealing with test result interpretations
  • Dealt with 19.5 lab reports, 11.1 imaging reports and 13.9 consult reports
  • Issued 12.1 prescription refills, excluding those issued during patient visits

Overall, the practice’s physicians worked roughly 50 to 60 hours a week. While Dr. Baron said reimbursing for each phone call or e-mail a physician handles would be impractical, he suggested that adopting capitation, in which physicians would receive an annual lump sum per patient, would better cover the amount of time primary care physicians actually spend on patients.