A recent survey highlights the significant challenges faced by doctors in the U.S., including burnout, staffing shortages, and overwhelming administrative workloads. However, there’s a glimmer of hope as many physicians believe artificial intelligence (AI) could provide much-needed relief.

The Burden of Administrative Tasks

Commissioned by Athenahealth, the survey reveals that over 90% of physicians regularly experience burnout, primarily due to excessive administrative tasks. About 64% of doctors feel overwhelmed by clerical responsibilities, contributing significantly to their stress levels. Furthermore, the pressure is so intense that more than 60% have considered exiting the medical profession.

“Pajama Time” and Patient Communication

Physicians report spending an average of 15 hours per week on work outside their normal hours, a period colloquially known as “pajama time.” The survey also found that nearly 60% of doctors feel they lack sufficient in-person time with patients, while over 75% are overwhelmed by excessive communication demands, including frequent texts, calls, and emails.

Staffing and Financial Concerns

Staff retention and shortages are a significant concern, affecting 78% of surveyed physicians’ organizations. Additionally, less than 40% of doctors are confident about their employer’s financial stability, highlighting broader systemic challenges within healthcare institutions.

The Potential of AI in Healthcare

Despite these challenges, 83% of physicians believe AI could be a part of the solution, potentially streamlining administrative tasks, improving diagnostic accuracy, and identifying patient data patterns. However, concerns remain about AI’s impact on the human touch in healthcare, with 70% of doctors worried about its role in the diagnostic process.

Dr. Nele Jessel, Chief Medical Officer of Athenahealth, emphasizes the need for technology to reduce administrative burdens and increase efficiencies, allowing physicians to refocus on patient care. While AI won’t solve healthcare problems overnight, it offers hope for a more efficient and effective future in medicine.

Study Methodology

The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Athenahealth from October 23 to November 8, involved 1,003 doctors. It aimed to assess physicians’ perspectives on workplace challenges and the potential of AI in addressing these issues.


This survey sheds light on the critical issues facing physicians today and the potential for AI to mitigate some of these challenges. While not a panacea, AI offers a promising avenue for enhancing healthcare delivery and physician well-being.