Maximizing Time With Your Doctor

By: Angela Howard Email
By: Angela Howard Email
How long do you spend with your doctor during a visit?  A recent study shows the time has actually increased over the years, but it still only gives you about 20 minutes.  So how can you maximize your time with the doc?

doctor is measuring the pulse of her patient

It seems almost everyone has waited longer than planned to *see* the doctor. But a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found the time doctors are spending with their patients *during* an appointment has actually increased!

From 1997 to 2005, the average visit increased from 18 to 20.8 minutes. The study also found that doctors used more quality measures, like medication reviews and blood pressure screenings.

But Nancy Van Vessem, the Chief Medical Officer at Capital Health Plan, how much those extra measures help, depends on you.

"You have to be sort of honest about things that you do. Do you smoke? What's your diet like? Do you exercise? Those types of things because in the long run, being well has a lot more to do with those lifestyle things than going to see the doctor occasionally," said Dr. Nancy Van Vessem.

Doctor Van Vessem says it's also important to write down any questions or pains you may have and medications you may be taking. Sharing all of this at your next appointment will not only maximize your time with your health care provider, it will in turn help his or her office when it comes to scheduling.

"It's not a precise science. It's not like a carnival ride where you get on and get off. It has a lot more with the individual patient presenting symptoms," said Dr. Van Vessem.

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