Is Seven Minutes Enough Time

Doctors are allowing 7 minutes per patient, to become familiar, diagnose and treat a patient. If this is your doctor, it may not be his fault. There has been pressure from the health care system to move patients through faster. It began in 80’s, the problem had been sneaking up on doctors for almost two decades. As health-care dollars became scarce in the 80’s & 90’s, hospitals began asking their business people to attend clinical meetings to see what doctors were doing that cost a lot of money, then to try and do things more efficiently. Almost immediately, business jargon was becoming commonplace. “Patients” began to disappear. They were replaced by “consumers.” They eventually became “customers.”

Good doctors treat patients as if they are family members, they take time to talk,comfort them and explain what the future may hold in store. Sometimes, that future may be bleak. But the doctor should assure them that they are there to help them face it.

My mother had been diagnosed with cancer and I first noticed the “rush” from her doctor because I was bringing her to my home and had to buy a hospital bed etc. for her room, and he was calling me because the hospital was insisting on moving her out. The initial charge for a new admission was much more money than the daily charge.

The solution to the problem is in your hands. You, as the patient, are the system’s best hope. In the age of seven-minute health care, you need to realize that you employ doctors.
That is, your doctor works for you. Although doctors shouldn’t think of patients as customers, you can, and should, adopt a business mind-set when shopping for health care.

Decide what it is you expect from your doctor, then ask for it. If you are unhappy with your doctor, fire him. If you cannot get more than a seven-minute face-to-face encounter with your doctor, he needs fewer patients. The true power in the health care economy rests not with the doctors and certainly not with the backroom business staff. It rests with you. If you insist on being treated with care and respect, you will be. And the system will improve as a result.

Ask around, your friends may be able to refer you their doctor, there are a lot of doctors in this city, no need to settle for a doctor that doesn’t treat you well.


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