“15 Minute Visit”

Kaiser Health News had an interesting article about the medical profession.  The idea of the “15 Minute Visit”, where doctors spend a short amount of time with patients after waiting months for an appointment, sometimes hours in the waiting room, and have a list of complaints for their doctor, are becoming increasingly more common. Though the amount of time that doctors spend with patients has always hovered around 15 minutes, the quality of that time is being reduced drastically. Health care in America is increasingly based on quantity not quality of care. Doctors aren’t being paid as well per patient. To make up for this, doctors are increasingly having to see more patients to make their overhead and other costs.

This time crunch mainly results in patients feeling less satisfied with their doctors, though there are some negative side effects as well, such as an increased chance of patients being prescribed medications rather than behavioral changes, a missed opportunity to get patients invested in their health by not making a connections with them, and a focus on the primary reason a patient is visiting which can lead to ignoring secondary concerns they might have. These secondary concern could range from minor ailments to symptoms of larger health concerns.

Though the visits are still about the same time in length as always, studies have shown that “doctors let patients speak for only 23 seconds before redirecting them” and that patients were often “interrupted after 12 seconds, if not by the health care provider then by a beeper or a knock on the door.” Dr. Alex Lickerman, director of the University of Chicago’s Student Health and Counseling Services, said, “People feel dissatisfied when they don’t get a chance to say what they have to say.” One way that you can make the most of your doctor’s visits is to go in knowing what you want to discuss. Sometimes patient make lists, but you should also prioritize your lists. As David Rothman, who studies at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, said, “Doctors have one eye on the patient and one eye on the clock.”