Doctors on the spot

After spending (what feels like) a small eternity in the waiting room, the actual time patients are in session with their doctor lasts between 48 seconds in Bangladesh to 22.5 minutes in Sweden (1). Outcomes and patient satisfaction can not be rated by the length of the appointment alone. But it’s safe to say that the relationship between the doctor and the patient suffers when time is short. 

Doctors and patients both want the patient to get better. But that’s where the commonality ends. “Doctors have one eye on the patient and one eye on the clock”, claims David J. Rothman, a scientist in the field of medicine history.

The patient steps in the doctor’s office with several issues and worries, which (s)he wants to discuss. They are expecting the doctor to listen and take all the time needed.The doctor can often not meet the patient’s expectation of full attention when rushing through appointments in 15-minutes intervals. For a doctor, time is money. The insurance reimbursement covers just enough to fill 15 minutes appointments. This explains that doctors literally can not afford to exceed their time limit.

Limiting consultation time is a catch-22. Life altering diagnoses and complex therapies are not always explained sufficiently. Patients leave in a muddle. This can lead to lack of adherence, unsuccessful therapy,  repeat visits and worst of all complications. All of which damage the patient’s health, cost the healthcare system money and make doctors feel powerless. 

Doctor’s are stuck in the system, the length of visiting hours won’t change and doctors simply can’t be available 24/7. What’s needed are patient solutions that fill in and provide quality information and support outside of the doctor’s office. 

Preview: The health system is as good as its patients – Adherence as one representing example. 

Stay connected, stay healthy!


P.S.: Ariana can help patients when the doctor is out of reach – get in touch to learn how she does it.


Crist, C. in Reuters: The doctor will see you now – but often not for long.