One of the most common questions that I get is this one: "Hey Doc, why only 10 minute appointments?" I read this fascinating article today from Kaiser Health News dated April 21, 2014 entitled, "15-Minute Visits Take A Toll On The Doctor-Patient Relationship." I definitely encourage you to read it.
I know you're not surprised when I tell you the reason comes down to money. There is an actual formula that the article defines a term called "Relative Value Units" to calculate physician fees. In essence, the formula was how the fifteen minute visit was created.
The article does a great job talking about the plight of the Primary Care Physician. In the 1990s, "Managed Care" came in a cut physician fees significantly. The only way to try to recover these losses, was to increase volume, meaning seeing more patients per hour and per day.
In the last section of the article, it states that having less time for a patient/physician interaction is bad. Duh. Like we didn't know that. Some physicians have solved this problem by leaving all insurances behind. This is what sparked the current Direct Primary Care surge and the associated concierge medicine models.
Other models have popped up as well, including the Patient Centered Medical Home model in which providers are paid a "per member per month" fee and this hopes to relieve the financial strain of the current system, and hopefully gets more time with the physician & patient.
The only way to preserve the Physician/Patient relationship is to try to ensure more appointment time to cultivate and foster this relationship. One thing we do know is that our current system does not do this. Hopefully, with innovative and creative health care models, solutions can be found to gain more time during office visits and improve Physician/Patient communication.