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Doctors in the U.S. are struggling to cope with burnout, understaffing and overwhelming administrative workloads, but many are optimistic that artificial intelligence can help alleviate those problems, a new study finds.

More than 90 percent of doctors report feeling “burned out” on a “regular basis,” according to the survey commissioned by Athenahealth, which offers cloud-based healthcare tools. The survey found that excessive administrative tasks, such as paperwork, were the driving force behind this burnout, with 64% of doctors saying they felt overwhelmed by clerical demands.

More than 60% of those surveyed said they had considered leaving the medical field, the report said

Athenahealth released the study results on Wednesday.

To keep up with the workloads, doctors spend an average of 15 hours a week working outside of their normal work hours, which many in the industry refer to as “pajama time,” the study said.

Nearly 60% of doctors in the survey said they felt they did not have enough one-on-one time with their patients, and more than 75% reported feeling overwhelmed by patients’ “excessive communication demands,” such as frequent texting, calling and emailing outside scheduled visits

Doctors also notice the challenges their employers face, the survey found

About 78 percent of physicians say poor staff retention and shortages are affecting their organizations, according to the survey. In addition, less than 40% of physicians feel confident that their employer is “on a sound financial footing.”

Despite these obstacles, 83% of doctors in the survey said they believe AI can help. Doctors believe the technology could eventually streamline administrative work, improve the accuracy of diagnoses, identify patterns and anomalies in patient data and much more, the study said.

Many doctors said their biggest concern about AI was that it could lead to a loss of the human touch in healthcare, and about 70% said they were concerned about using the technology during at least one part of the diagnosis process. says the study.

However, twice as many survey participants said AI will eventually be part of the solution compared to those who said AI was part of the problem, according to the press release.

The survey says AI optimists — survey participants who point out that AI is part of the solution — also tend to feel more positive about the technology’s wider use in health care. Nearly 80% of this group said they believe technology helps them manage their patient load, for example.

“For physicians to take full advantage of technology as a tool to improve care, they need to experience more benefits and fewer additional complications or burdens,” said Dr. Nelle Jessel, Athenahealth’s chief medical officer, in the release. “If we get this right, we will use technology to reduce administrative work and increase efficiency in ways that allow physicians to refocus on their patients.”

While AI is unlikely to solve healthcare problems overnight, the study found that the technology gives some doctors hope for the future. About 37 percent of AI optimists believe the field is ultimately headed in the right direction, according to the survey.

The study surveyed 1,003 doctors between October 23 and November 8. The survey was conducted online by market research firm The Harris Poll on behalf of Athenahealth, whose sponsorship of the survey was not disclosed to survey participants, the release said. Only 5 percent of respondents said they used Athenahealth’s technology, it said in the message.

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