For somethings in life 15 minutes can seem like an eternity. The thought of 15 minutes at a red light, in an elevator or grabbing money from an ATM seems almost inconceivable. But for other tasks, 15 minutes doesn’t seem like it would be nearly enough time to complete what needs to be done. We tend to spend more than 15 minutes with our accountants, plumbers and to even spend more time at the grocery store. But what about the important things in life, arguable the most important thing: our health.
15 minutes is the new normal for the amount of time a doctor spends with their patients. Most Americans would probably agree that they spend more time in the waiting room than they do actually with their doctor. Dr. Alex Lickerman at ImagineMD looked into how these 15 minutes compares to other services we experience.
An auto mechanic can’t even get through a full oil change in that time, as it typically takes about 30 minutes per appointment. We spend four times as much time with a masseuse, which if often just for recreational purposes, than we do with our actual doctor.
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For someone who is charge of informing us of our health, 15 minutes seems alarmingly insufficient.
Bruce Lee goes into how the infamous 15 minute doctor visit came to be, claiming that it originated from insurance reimbursement. He goes on to mention how insurance only pays hospitals and doctors enough to allow for 15 minutes per patient in order to turn a profit. While it still unclear how 15 minutes was determined as a sufficient amount of time, it seems to date back to 1992.
By spending such a short amount of time with patients, it has a domino effect that can complicate much of the relationship moving forward. It is difficult for doctors to fully know and understand each and every one of their patients and make appropriate recommendations as needed. When a patient comes in with a health concern, it can be difficult for the doctor to be fully kept up to speed on the patient’s history and what the proper recommendations should be to ensure they remain healthy.
Ultimately people tend to spend more time with their hairstylist, cleaners and even feng shui consultant (if you’re into that kind of thing) then they do with their doctor. People don’t expect their accountants to not finish a tax filing appointment, but the health industry has been molded differently.