Patients get little time to say their piece

The average time allotted for a physical is 15 minutes, USA TODAY reports. And sometimes it\'s even less than that. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Ever feel like your doctor is watching the clock? You’re not alone.

Doctors’ offices are becoming more and more like a assembly lines, as doctors take on more patients and spend less time with them. And rushed patients are feeling they’re not getting quality care.

USA TODAY reports that the average time allotted for a physical is now 15 minutes. Some physicians who work for hospitals tell USA TODAY that they’ve been asked to see patients every 11 minutes. And it’s a problem likely to get worse, as millions more Americans sign up for health care through the Affordable Care Act.

Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, tells USA TODAY that the fee-for-service payment model and demands from insurance companies lead to a “hamster wheel” situation, where “doctors are thinking, ‘I have to meet my bottom line, pay my overhead, pay my staff and keep my doors open.'”

That often leads to doctors who listen less to their patients. A 1999 study found that doctors only let patients speak for 23 seconds before interrupting them; another study in 2001 showed that it was even quicker.

WTOP’s Lori Lundin contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.


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