Hopkins study finds patients time with physicians diminished when doctors' schedules are off

Doctors and patients who don't stick to schedules are responsible for lack of face time.

Patients get more face-to-face time with doctors in clinics that operate on schedule, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

That may seem obvious, but balancing wait times and face times involves more than just getting patients to show up for appointments when they are supposed to, the researchers said.

Punctuality is necessary, but perhaps a more important factor may be changing doctor behavior, according to the study published in BMJ Open.

After assessing more than 23,000 doctor-patient interactions in three Hopkins clinics and some computer modeling, the researchers found doctors seemed to have a sense of when their clinics were backed up and became inconsistent in the amount of time offered patients. That shortchanged some patients, though many doctors weren’t aware they were treating patients differently.

The answer, the researchers said, is for doctors to make more of an effort to give patients equal and consistent time.

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