Are you getting quality time with your doctor? Most doctors say 'No'

Dr. Lawrence Gassner of MDVIP, and other doctors in the national network of primary care doctors,  have reduced their number of patients to spend more quality time during visits. (MDVIP)

The average interaction between primary care doctors and their patients is just seven to 10 minutes, barely enough time to say hello and catch up. Patients have complained about this for years, and a new survey shows that 83 percent of doctors agree. There are steps you can take ahead of time.

"Ask that physician how long he or she plans on spending with you when you come in for a visit," said Dr. Lawrence Gassner. "How much time they allot for you as a patient. Is it five minutes? Is it 20 minutes? Is it as long as you need?"

The survey found that many primary care doctors are not always the best of role models when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Gassner, of MDVIP, the national network of primary care doctors, says he walks the talk, or in his case, rides his bicycle.

"I love taking my patients bike-riding, " Gassner said. "It's one of my passions, and I love taking them hiking."

In addition to asking how much time your doctor plans on spending with you, the other important question to ask is the doctor's approach to keeping you healthy in the long term, Gassner said, not just their ability to treat you when you're sick.

Some of Dr. Gassner’s recommendations include:

  • Asking a prospective doctor’s office for a meet and greet with the physician so you can ask questions.
  • Understanding that it’s OK to ask questions, such as how many patients the practice regularly treats, the average waiting time, the average length of an appointment, how easy it is to reach the doctor.
  • Understanding the doctor’s philosophy and approach for managing your long-term health, not just their ability to treat you when you’re sick.
  • Finding a doctor who practices what they preach. Three-quarters of primary care physicians say they want their own doctor to be healthy and fit. Clinical reputation and bedside manner are also important criteria.
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