Obamacare Pitfall: Doctors and Patients Watch the Clock

A study revealed that, on the average, doctors spend about nine minutes with each of their patients during an office visit.
A study revealed that, on the average, doctors spend about nine minutes with each of their patients during an office visit. (iStock photo )

Now that the Affordable Care Act is weighing down the caseloads of already too-busy doctors with new patients, both doctors and patients are keeping an eye on the clock. 

Patients spend most of their time waiting, and experience very little actual face-time with the doctor, whereas doctors tend to rush from patient to patient.

Harvard Medical School calculated how many minutes patients spent seeking medical care. A typical visit consumes 121 minutes of the patient's time and $43 in lost wages. Patients are said to spend 1.1 billion hours per year obtaining care.

On the other hand, according to Statista, three-quarters of primary care physicians spend between nine and 20 minutes with each patient—a reported five percent spend less than nine minutes with their patients.

Dallas primary care physician Anthony Lyssy said doctors and patients deserve better.

"I can't do anything effective in eight minutes except throw a prescription at you and tell you to come back and see me in two weeks if it doesn't work," he said.

Dr. Lyssy chose to work for Diamond Physicians, a concierge practice. His patients pay a monthly or annual out-of-pocket fee instead of using health insurance.

His practice, like most concierge practices, has a much smaller case load than insurance-based practices, which means patients get more attention from the doctors.

"I meet with my clients for about an hour every time they come in," he said. "Even if they're coming in for something acute—a sinus infection, an ear infection—I take that time to talk about wellness, nutrition, fitness, overall elevation of health."

Lyssy said the average caseload for insurance-based primary care physicians is 3,000 patients, whereas concierge practices average about 500.

For the original article, visit cbnnews.com.

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