Researchers analyzed 112 recorded meetings between doctors and patients at general practices in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including at the Mayo Clinic and its affiliated clinics, and found that doctors only spent 11 seconds on average listening to a patient describe their reasons for visiting before interrupting. This is not good. They also found that 67 percent of patients were interrupted after responding and only 36 percent of doctors even ask questions that invited patients to direct the focus of the conversation. Want more?
In primary care visits, 49 percent of patients were able to explain their agenda, while in specialty visits, only 20 percent of patients were allowed to explain their reason for visiting. For specialty care visits, eight out of 10 patients were interrupted even if they were allowed to share their agenda.
The authors don’t know whether the reason is lack of communication training, time constraints or burnout but they are sure that “we are far from achieving patient-centered care”.
I don’t know the answer either. We live in a world of limited attention span so this could be what is now “normal” in these overstimulated times but I think it is more than that. I think it still goes back the “environment” we are put in, as Dr. Neuhofel spoke about in his piece. Doctors are burdened by shorter visits, and emphasis on productivity, and shackled by bureaucratic tasks that are meaningless to the encounter. All in all, 11 second interruptions are an embarrassment and prove we are not able to be the doctors we wanted to be.
It’s time to take back control and push back on the system. If you can’t do this WITHIN the system, which is highly probable, then we need to do it OUT of the system. We need to break free from the forces that are causing this shamefulness because the patients will only blame us and that isn’t fair. Or is it? Would love your opinions on this.