How do Australian general practitioners spend their time? A cross-sectional analysis of Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) data examining 'non-billable workload'

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: While Australian general practitioners (GPs) gain most of their income from direct patient interactions, they also spend time attending to professional or practice responsibilities. The aim of this study was to determine the time Australian GPs spend on work away from direct patient care ('non-billable work'), and practice and practitioner factors associated with non-billable work. METHOD: This study was a cross-sectional analysis of GPs practising >7.5 hours/week in the 2016 Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) dataset. The amount of time that GPs spend on non‑billable work was examined, and ordinal logistic regression was used to determine an association between the amount of this work and practice and practitioner factors. RESULTS: The sample of 2907 GPs spent 5.1 hours (95% confidence interval: 4.88, 5.27), or 14.2% of their time, on non-billable activities. Non-billable work was associated with female gender, college fellowship, location of medical degree, and rural practice. DISCUSSION: The amount of non-billable work is likely to increase with population ageing and increasing feminisation of the GP workforce. The lack of reimbursement for much of this work challenges economic viability and GP job satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-666
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of General Practice
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

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