The Myth of the 7 Minute Doctor Visit

7 minutes to health

Can 7 minutes change the world? We’d like to think so. We’d especially like to think so if we’re on the giving or receiving end of a 7 minute doctor visit.

We know that if we can connect with others, we can actually make magic happen. Connection improves your health, releases hormones that stimulate collagen, and makes you happy. And it also happens to make us feel a lot more sane. Where can I buy that vitamin, right?

This all came about after talking with my client, Becky.

Becky is a coaching client of mine, and also happens to be an experienced physician who’s been with a large multi-specialty practice group for over ten years. She’s board certified, was featured as one of the “Top Doctors” of her region, and is well-respected by patients and colleagues. Basically, Becky’s got it goin’ on.

But when I last spoke with her, she was pretty flustered. “My business partners are criticizing me about spending way too much time with patients,” she moaned, “but how can I really get to the root of what’s going on in a seven minute visit?” Basically, 7 minutes isn’t enough for Becky.

Because Becky needs more time to connect with her patient in order to really know their story.  I mean, how often does a patient tell you directly and concisely everything that could be happening in their lives to be causing a certain ailment – all within 7 minutes?

It doesn’t happen that easily.

Of course, I had to nod my head at Becky’s complaints. And my personal aha right then was: if Becky is having trouble with this concept, what are you feeling?

Whether you’re a doctor or have been the patient, and you feel like you need more than 7 minutes, you deserve it.

Plain and simple, connecting with patients is good for patients and doctors.

Time Magazine recently featured Leslie Michelson’s new book, The Patient’s Playbook: How to Save Your Life and the Lives of Those You Love. Michelson found that people who had good relationships with their primary care physicians tend to get better health care.

This finding didn’t surprise me, or Becky, or any of most of the clients I work with, on both sides of the stethoscope. Why?

It’s all about connection.

Why connection makes us healthy, happy, and keeps us looking younger:

1) When we feel connected with someone, we’re more likely to share honest details of our situation. When it comes to health care, and you share more as a patient, then the doctor can have a better clue as to what is really going on.

Here’s what I mean: I recently saw a patient who had had successful surgery and, in my opinion, was doing well. Yet, he seemed a bit out of sorts. I couldn’t put my finger on it. As we continued to talk, I finally just asked, “You seem like perhaps something else is going on?” A long pause.  .  . And then his eyes reddened a bit. “My wife just told me she wanted a divorce, after 26 years. I’m devastated, to tell you the truth.” Oh. Now I get it. Needless to say, a different conversation ensued after that. That had nothing to do with post-op care. And everything to do with healing.

2) Connecting with people by touch (no, I’m not getting into anything weird here!) can increase happiness. Neuroscientists at Pennsylvania State University found that getting five hugs a day for four weeks can substantially increase happiness.

Twitter-Icon_LoveMedicineAgain.comTweet: Neuroscientists say 5 hugs a day for 4wks can substantially increase happiness.

Patients often give me a little (sometimes big) hug after their post-op visit or when I have told them good news about their biopsy report –no cancer!. I’m there for this hug– meaning I’m present and positive, because — quite frankly — I am often just as happy as they are!
3) Finding your tribe – your people, those who make you feel loved and accepted – can make you look younger – even 10 years younger! Whether you are connecting with your family, your friends, or people in your work world, positive connections can release hormones like serotonin and oxytocin that stimulate our collagen tone. Will you still need your BOTOX injection for those frown lines? Maybe not!

After having a “Girls’ Night Out” or a long, relaxed talk with my sister, I will often get comments from family or patients: “You’re looking great! What are you doing differently?” I tell them I used my Connection Beauty Secret. Works every time!

How do you stay connected? Share with me in the comments below. And guess what, just sharing your ideas here will make you more connected to a great community of people, and thus . . . healthier, happier, younger-looking. How cool is that?

CATEGORIES: Blog, Connection on October 20, 2015 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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