It’s Time! Put Patients Over Paperwork

865 Merrick Avenue, Westbury, New York 11590-9007
Communications Division
Telephone: (516) 488-6100


For Immediate Release
December 16, 2019

It’s Time! Put Patients Over Paperwork

December 16, 2019, Westbury, NY—A physician’s time should be spent delivering care to their patients—not on the phone with insurance companies.

“The excessive time spent attempting to achieve prior authorizations has been well-documented as a significant factor in the increasing problem of physician ‘burnout,’ said Art Fougner, MD, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. “ We must find ways to reduce the excessive hassles that keep physicians from spending time with their patients.”

The amount of time physicians need to manage bureaucratic hassles imposed by health insurers to ensure their patients obtain needed care and medications have become intolerable.  A recent Annals Of Internal Medicine study found that a physician spent two hours on administrative tasks for every hour spent with a patient.  A just conducted study by the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) found that 43% of responding physicians and their staffs spent more than 10 hours per week managing insurer prior authorization requests alone.

Remarkably, 22% of responding physicians indicated that they and their staff spent greater than 20 hours per week on these tasks!

These administrative roadblocks don’t just take time away from delivering care; they can adversely impact patients, as well.  The survey reported that 92% of physicians indicated that prior authorization requirements at least sometimes adversely impacted their patients’ health, and 48% indicated that they frequently did.

One particular time-waster is repeating prior authorization requests that were previously approved.  94% of responding physicians, and their staff, indicated that they had to repeat a prior authorization request for care or medication that was previously approved. 48% indicated that they often had to repeat previously obtained prior authorization requests.

Even where the Legislature takes action to remediate these problems and protect patients’ access to care, there is no guarantee that these problems will be fixed. For example, the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo worked together to enact a law in 2016 that established criteria to allow physicians to override a health insurer’s decision to subject patients to step therapy protocols when warranted by the patient’s individual circumstances.  However, the survey reported that half the respondents to the MSSNY survey said that health plans’ override process was, at the very least, “challenging”, while 28% found the override process to be “extremely difficult”.

Remarkably, over 30% were unable to ever override a health insurer step therapy medication protocol.

“We are hopeful the insurance industry can work with their network physicians and the medical associations who represent them towards addressing these hassles,” said Dr. Fougner.  “Moreover, legislation has been advanced by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Neil Breslin (Assembly Bill 3038/Senate bill S.2847) that would reduce the frustrations associated with prior authorization requests, including ensuring they are clinically appropriate and preventing the need to repeat what has already been authorized.  This legislation sets forth a number of important steps to reduce these obstacles that get in the way of patients getting the care they need.”

Let’s truly put patients over paperwork!

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About the Medical Society of the State of New York
Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.


MSSNY Contact:
Roseann Raia
Communications / Marketing
Medical Society of the State of New York
865 Merrick Ave.
Westbury, New York
516-488-6100 ext 302


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