Preliminary Research Indicates AI May Help Reduce Administrative Healthcare Burden


The administrative and clerical demands on physicians are contributing to significant increases in healthcare costs, low job satisfaction, and physician burnout. According to a 2023 paper, primary care physicians spend only about 13 percent of their typical day in face-to-face contact with patients and spend about six hours per clinic day writing patient notes. Finding ways to decrease the high administrative burden could have a profoundly positive impact on healthcare. New research demonstrates that artificial intelligence (AI) may help.

The pilot study featured six fictional orthopedic cases in need of discharge documents. ChatGPT-4-generated discharge documents were compared to physician-generated discharge documents. Quality was assessed by 15 experts who were blinded as to the source of the documents. The time to generate the documents was also analyzed. ChatGPT-4 documents were generated ten times faster than physician-generated documents with comparable quality. There were four hallucinations (e.g., errors) in the ChatGPT-4-generated content compared to six hallucinations in the physician-generated content.

“Although the sample size is small and additional experiments are needed to assess the quality of ChatGPT-created discharge notes more broadly with different practitioners, different disease areas, and different institutes, this latest study is a first step in leveraging AI to improve efficiency in clinical practice and potentially reduce burnout,” said Marina Sirota, PhD, Acting Director of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute and UCSF Associate Professor. Sirota was recently an expert who participated in a roundtable podcast discussion on the topic of AI in healthcare.

AI can also be used to analyze data regarding administrative tasks and workflow and then create algorithms that help optimize workflow and improve healthcare systems, which may have a positive impact on cost, clinical outcomes, and physician job satisfaction. According to the American Medical Association, physicians are enthusiastic but remain cautious.

AI research is also being applied to nursing. According to NurseJournal, nurses only spend about 21 percent of their time on direct patient care. A 2023 Accenture report found that AI may be able to perform up to 30 percent of administrative nursing tasks.

The authors of a 2024 paper regarding government adoption of AI conclude, “While perhaps not entirely ready to be unleashed without supervision, AI continues to demonstrate rapid development and positive potential to significantly improve administrative processes in Medicaid and other health benefits programs, public and private.” The authors point out that presently annual administrative costs exceed $1 trillion nationwide, “half of which has been characterized as wasteful.”

“The opportunities of applying AI in biomedicine are vast including both discovery sciences work in the context of improving diagnostics and therapeutics, educating the next generation of physician-scientists, as well as reducing the administrative burden for doctors,” said Dr. Sirota. "The example presented by Rosenberg et al. is a starting point towards the latter goal."