Have you ever had the experience of waiting 30-50 minutes at your primary care doctor’s office?
Or of feeling rushed through the 10-15 minutes with your doctor?
Or of leaving the office with a handful of prescriptions and tests to do, but no understanding of the prescriptions, tests or diagnosis.
There are four main reasons for those rushed doctor visits.
Firstly, because health insurance companies in general do not reimburse doctors enough for spending time with patients.
Secondly, health insurance companies also require a significant amount of documentation in the progress note. Hence the doctor is typing on the computer and entering data nearly all day.
Thirdly, many medical problems can be addressed with a phone call or video chat with the doctor but health insurance companies do not reimburse for those types of visits. Therefore the doctor makes the requirement for a face to face visit.
Finally, the doctor’s office needs a whole team of employed people to keep track of all the health insurance claims and denials.
The combination of all four reasons forces the doctor to keep short office visits in general.
If a doctor spends 45 minutes with a patient to do a thorough history, physical exam and a detailed treatment plan for diabetes. Then includes precise explanations of all the treatments and tests, including extensive lifestyle medicine education.
The doctor will get reimbursed by the insurance company for LESS THAN what a plumber, electrician, mechanic charge for their services.
How about the hourly charge for an engineer, accountant or lawyer? The family doctor with 7 years of post-graduate training is not even close to lawyer.
It is very difficult for a traditional doctor’s office to survive financially without seeing and billing for 3 or 4 patients per hour.
This is the route of the problem and the main reason we feel that doctor-patient relationship is broken along with reduce quality of medical care that happens because of the limited face to face time with the doctor.
Do we ever ask our plumber, electrician, mechanic, engineer, accountant or lawyer to hurry up and complete the tasks in 15 minutes?
For doctors, who are dealing with life threatening problems, with a large volume of complex medical information from hospitals, test results, specialists’ information, prescription drugs and treatments, talk with and LISTEN to the patient, we ask them to do all that in 15 minutes. That is insanity.
Though you may not know this, doctors suffer from this system as well.
Depression, burnout and suicide amongst physicians are at record levels. Many doctors want to retire early if possible or leave the system outright.
There is a recent documentary made called ‘’Do No Harm” that explains these problems in detail. There is also a national physician suicide awareness day – September 17th.
One of the reasons why health insurance and costs are so expensive is because we expect the health insurance to cover nearly all aspects of medical care, including the ‘’maintenance and basic repairs’’.
Many of us have car and home insurance. Those insurances only cover accidents and major repairs. Those insurances do not cover the large amount of money we spend in maintaining the car and home.
The insurance premiums for cars and homes are already expensive. If the premium covered all the expenses for maintenance, the premiums would likely be 5-10 times as much!
Imagine if the car insurance covered gasoline and told us which gas stations we could go to and the paperwork needed to fill gas – sounds ridiculous!
Or if we needed a plumber or an electrician who was ‘’out of network’’ and we had to file a home insurance claim – again ridiculous. But this is what we do with health insurance.
There is a better way. Many doctors before us have shown us an alternate path.
We at Connecticut Lifestyle Medicine want to reestablish the sacred doctor-patient relationship. No waiting, long visits when desired, and accessibility to the doctor when you need it.