GPs are under pressure daily to squeeze as many patients in as possible. But does that then just become a numbers game, instead of providing patients with an ‘adequate’ amount of time and ‘quality care’?
When doctors don’t allow for enough time with patients, misdiagnosis can occur, leaving the patient remaining ill and time for them to deteriorate, with no other option than to return to their GP for further treatment.
Generally, GPs see each patient on average for 10 minutes or less, with more serious and completed cases needing double that amount of time.
“Short visits take a toll on the doctor-patient relationship, which is considered a key ingredient of good care, and may represent a missed opportunity for getting patients more actively involved in their own health.”
Do doctors need to allocate more time to see patients?
When not enough time is allocated with the doctors and their patients, a multiple of issues can occur, including misdiagnosis, miscommunication, no perceived empathy from the doctor, leading to distrust from the patient (they leave feeling rushed and just like another number).
One large study of over 2500 patients found that nearly one third had marginal or inadequate health literacy. Of these, 42% misunderstood directions for taking medications on an empty stomach, 25% misunderstood the scheduling of their next appointment, and nearly 60% were unable to read and understand a typical informed consent document.
“Patient engagement is more than just the buzzword of the moment – it’s a key to unlocking a healthier population and fixing some of the widening cracks of the healthcare system,” said Dr. Nick van Terheyden, CMIO, Nuance.
Each patient is treated individually, receiving different diagnosis and treatment, so duration of consults must also be considered as some patients need longer visits for more serious or continuing conditions. To deliver the best quality of care to patients, each patient needs an adequate amount of time with their GP to understand their health issues and fully comprehend their diagnosis and treatment process.