Doctors Not Spending Enough Time With Patients

Female doctors spent more time per patient,  on average, than their male counterparts.Female doctors spent more time per patient,  on average, than their male counterparts.

The time that patients spend with their doctors is getting thinner every year. Surveys conducted so far in Iran indicate that the average time physicians spend with each patient is hardly 10 minutes in private offices and 3-4 minutes in state-run health centers and hospitals.

Iraj Khosronia, head of the Iranian Scientific Society of Internal Medicine Specialties had said earlier that the average time per patient is 4-6 minutes in private and state hospitals.

In 2015 physicians were instructed to increase the time allocated to every patient to 15 minutes for general physicians, 20 minutes for specialists, and 30 minutes for psychiatrists; however doctors are not spending the standard time talking to and examining their patients.

Shorter visits increase the likelihood the patient will leave the doctor’s office with a prescription for medication, rather than behavioral change like trying to lose weight.

“The main reason behind the short doctor visits in state hospitals is overcrowding; the demand is high,” Dr. Mohammad Aghajani, deputy minister of health for treatment, told ISNA.

While high demand forces doctors to shorten the length of time they allocate to each patient, it is financially rewarding as seeing more patients results in more payments.

In order to meet the high demand for medical services, in particular in remote and poor areas, last year (ended March) the government announced plans to launch 250 new polyclinics.

There already are 600 state-run polyclinics in underprivileged and remote regions across the country.

Aghajani said last year the part-time work contracts of 9,700 personnel, including medical specialists who were working in the clinics were upgraded to full-time with higher wages.

A 2016 study of 19,200 specialists by online medical resource Medscape revealed that female doctors spent more time per patient, on average, than their male counterparts.

Part of the Medscape report included information on how many minutes doctors say they spend with each patient, with 13-16 minutes being the most commonly-reported estimate.

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