Reducing the number of transactional functions required from physicians — such as data gathering and data entry — may improve physicians’ ability to participate in and improve personalized healthcare, according to a paper published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

In current medical practice, many physicians are burdened with transactional functions that take away from their true desire: developing relationships with patients and providing personalized, individualized care to improve patient outcomes. Recently, the transactional aspects of care have become even more overwhelming as a result of the requirements for data entry into patients’ electronic health records. Although transactional functions are typically independent of physician care, there is often some overlap in how and when these functions should be fulfilled.

Many investigators and healthcare practitioners suggest a clear distinction should be made between transactional and personalized care functions, particularly with regard to physician responsibility. If centers could delineate which functions are the responsibility of the physician (ie, developing tailored treatment options for patients based on evidence-based data) vs which are the responsibility of other healthcare employees (ie, data entry), physicians might have more time to treat the patient without having to allocate their time to tasks that take away from care quality.

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In addition, improvements in medical education regarding personalized care skills, as well as improvements in communication skills with other members of the healthcare system, are needed in the current curriculum. This may ensure that everyone is aware of the goals and workloads of each care team member. Physicians are urged to engage more openly and aggressively in team care, rather than compromising this care because of cultural, organizational, or technological barriers. Finally, it is suggested that electronic health record systems may also need to change by prominently communicating the shared care plan and displaying care tasks and milestones.

The authors suggest that a shift from the “unfulfilling transactional roles to focus on the great value inherent in providing personalized aspects of care will be a triple win — for patients, physicians, and society.”


Reuben DB, Sinsky CA. From transactional tasks to personalized care: a new vision of physicians’ roles. Ann Fam Med. 2018;16(2):168-169.