Study: Face Time At Doctor Visits Expanding, Not Dwindling

Researchers have found that, contrary to conventional wisdom backed by "a more than 10 percent drop" in physician pay and consumer complaints, doctors are actually spending more time with their patients than they used to, the Los Angeles Times' Booster Shots blog reports. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that, between 1997 and 2005, doctors' time spent with patients increased from 18 minutes to 21 minutes during an average visit (Mestel, 11/9).

One reason for the increase could be doctors are seeing "more older, sicker patients, the researchers said," according to HealthDay/U.S. News and World Report. But, "quality of care also improved according to nine medical, counseling and screening indicators used by the researchers." One researcher told HealthDay, "Any efforts to increase efficiency in primary care should take into account the association between time spent with a physician and quality of care" (Reinberg, 11/9).

"Another possible driver, they suggest, is an increased focus on having patients participate in making decisions about their care — it takes  longer to explain things to patients and seek their input than simply to tell them what to do," the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog reports (Goldstein, 11/9).

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