Your Doctor Has You on the Clock

Despite the introduction of Accountable Care Organizations and other innovations that were implemented through the Affordable Care Act, the “fee for service” model of compensating doctors has really not changed.  Add  to this the pressure on a doctor’s schedule from the addition of more insured patients, and the time that your doctor can spend with you during an office visit is bound to be even shorter.  As a result, Kaiser Health News reports that primary care physicians schedule their appointments at 15-minute intervals, and some, who are employed by hospitals, report that they have been asked to reduce that to eleven minutes.  This prevents the doctors from being able to really listen to what is being said, or to ask follow up questions that could provide greater insight into the patient’s situation.  The time pressure may also mean that the doctor is more likely to prescribe medication to address the concern, rather than spend time discussing behavioral changes, such as modifying diet or other environmental changes.

When we see seniors and their families who have concerns about finding, getting and paying for good care, we often observe that they are quite reticent to discuss their concerns during the first 7-10 minutes of our meeting.  However, once that amount of time has passed, and our Care Coordinator is continuing to ask questions about their concerns, without looking at the clock, our guests seem to relax and provide much more information about what is going on with them.  This enables our team to lay the foundation for a good plan that will allow us to advocate for the best care possible.

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