5 Ways to Cut Down on Physician Pajama Time

April 23, 2024
Woman working on laptop and taking notes on notepad

Pajama time might sound like a fun term, but in reality, it’s a burden for physicians. It refers to the time doctors—and other clinic personnel—invest after normal working hours, typically at home, filling out paperwork or doing other administrative tasks.

“Administrative burdens such as documenting patient visits, completing billing templates and dealing with insurance companies have become so severe that doctors refer to the practice as late-night ‘pajama time,’” according to an article in Forbes.

Pajama time is often cited as a contributing factor to the problem of physician burnout. Another downside is that working off-the-clock skews efficiencies by artificially inflating the amount of work healthcare professionals complete during their shifts.  
“The practice of ‘pajama time’ or working outside of a shift also overestimates the operational efficiencies of the practice,” explains MedPage Today. “Why? Because clinicians are completing their required, uncompensated tasks off the clock.”
Facilities are challenged to reduce the work that physicians do in their own time. Here are five steps they can take:


The first step non-acute healthcare facilities can take to mitigate pajama time is to assign tasks to staff who can complete the jobs during regular office hours. This entails determining who in the organization can handle an increased workload to avoid doctors routinely working after hours.
Better allocating and sharing responsibilities allow staff to handle administrative work often done by physicians—and fosters an environment that encourages teamwork. Another benefit is that removing the administrative burden on doctors frees up their time to focus on patient care.
In addition, support staff with experience handling administrative tasks may be able to drive improvements in workflows. This can lead to more efficient processes that take less time.


Statistics tell a concerning story about work-life balance, according to TeamStage:

  • 66% of full-time employees in America do not have a work-life balance.
  • 40% of employees use their devices for work outside of business hours.
  • 26% of work performed by salaried employees is done outside of business hours.

Healthcare facilities should strive to establish a favorable work-life balance to discourage physicians from working after hours. Organizations can set boundaries too, such as asking physicians and staff to not check emails or take work phone calls after they leave the office.
“The development of healthier boundaries around one’s time and emotional energy can be challenging, especially when many of these self-sacrificing behaviors have become habits over time,” according to the Society of Hospital Medicine. “Despite these challenges, healthy boundaries are essential for psychological well-being, clinician satisfaction, and the prevention and amelioration of burnout.”
Physicians and office managers should set clear expectations about working outside of established office hours. This allows doctors and others to level-set on what’s required.


One area where physicians spend time after hours is with electronic health records (EHRs). Researchers studied EHRs and inbox message volume for primary care physicians at UW Health, the integrated health system at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study revealed that from 2022 to 2023, doctors spent about 30 minutes more time in their EHRs per eight hours of clinical appointments compared to the 2019 to 2020 period.
Implementing modern technology in a facility, such as state-of-the-art EHRs and dictation solutions, can simplify patient notes and documentations to reduce paperwork—if the technologies are used correctly and employees are properly trained. Likewise, practice management software helps with administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, improving billing accuracy and assisting in revenue cycle management to save staff time.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI in particular are poised to streamline and accelerate processes to free up providers’ time. The technologies can automate or accelerate administrative workflows to deliver significant time savings.


Taking a standardized approach to improving operational efficiency encourages—and better enables—work to be done during normal office hours. A standardized workflow is a task that achieves a specific outcome consistently and efficiently.
Standardization uses predetermined processes, procedures and guidelines to reduce errors while increasing productivity. With the right approach and technology, standardization can eliminate unnecessary steps or redundancies to make processes more efficient and less time consuming.
Standardizing workflows also allows facilities to allocate resources where they make the most sense. For example, organizations can allocate technology and utilize staff where they are most needed to complete workloads faster.

“Office managers and doctors looking to address pajama time can start by talking to their GPO.”


If the current staff is unable to complete work during clinic hours, facilities can consider adding new employees to handle some or all of the administrative work. Organizations should identify workflow bottlenecks to determine where additional staffing can eliminate burdens and have the most optimal impact.
Facilities can also consider outsourcing certain tasks to a third party to relieve the burden on doctors. Outsourcing non-clinical tasks allows on-staff employees to have more time to dedicate to the business and patient care, while ensuring administrative tasks are handled in a professional manner.


Non-acute healthcare facilities that take action to reduce pajama time can give physicians their personal time back. A group purchasing organization (GPO) offers proven solutions for facilities. For example, Provista has a deep and diverse portfolio of products and services that span technology, staffing and workforce development to help facilities complete work during traditional business hours.
A GPO like Provista also offers purchased services to help members fill gaps in staffing. GPO relationships with business and clinical experts can be optimized to improve efficiencies for facilities and to streamline administrative work. Office managers and doctors looking to address pajama time can start by talking to their GPO.

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