Panel workload assessment in US primary care: Accounting for non-face-to-face panel management activities

Brian Arndt, Wen Jan Tuan, Jennifer White, Jessica Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: An. understanding of primary care provider (PCP) workload is an important consideration in establishing optimal PCP panel size. However, no widely acceptable measure of PCP workload exists that incorporates the effort involved with both non-face-to-face patient care activities and face-to-face encounters. Accounting for this gap is critical given the increase in non-face-to-face PCP activities that has accompanied electronic health records (EHRs) (eg, electronic messaging). Our goal was to provide a comprehensive assessment of perceived PCP workload, accounting for aspects of both face-to-face and non-face-to-face encounters. Methods: Internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatric PCPs completed a self-administered survey about the perceived workload involved with face-to-face and non-face-to-face panel management activities as well as the perceived challenge associated with caring for patients with particular biomedical, demographic, and psychosocial characteristics (n = 185). Survey results were combined with EHR data at the individual patient and PCP service levels to assess PCP panel workload, accounting for face-to-face and non-face-to-face utilization. Results: Of the multiple face-to-face and non-face-to-face activities associated with routine primary care, PCPs considered hospital admissions, obstetric care, hospital discharges, and new patient preventive health visits to be greater workload than non-face-to-face activities such as telephone calls, electronic communication, generating letters, and medication refills. Total workload within PCP panels at the individual patient level varied by overall health status, and the total workload of non-face-to-face panel management activities associated with routine primary care was greater than the total workload associated with face-to-face encounters regardless of health status. Conclusions: We used PCP survey results coupled with EHR data to assess PCP workload associated with both face-to-face as well as non-face-to-face panel management activities in primary care. The non-face-to-face workload was an important contributor to overall PCP workload for all patients regardless of overall health status. This is an important consideration for PCP workload assessment given the changing nature of primary care that requires more non-face-to-face effort, resulting in an overall increase in PCP workload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-537
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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