NEWPORT, RI – Managed care administrators have calculated that if physicians eliminate common greetings towards patients in the exam room, savings could mount in the billions. Common greetings such as “How are you doing?” or “Good day to you, what is new in your life?” tend to bog physicians down in several minutes of unnecessary chatter, according to administrators.
“We have calculated that common greetings in the exam room typically lead to on average 2.6 minutes of wasteful talk,” said Robert Witherspoon, a hospital consultant. “The open-ended questions allow patients to discuss almost anything including how their son or daughter is doing at college, new job prospects, etc. This is wasted time that cuts into coding time and documentation. ICD 10.2 doesn’t have a code for a patient’s children or hobbies.”
Administrators are recommending physicians drop common greetings, enter the room and just say, “What is your medical problem today?” According to their research, the patients will start talking about medical problems within 10 seconds instead of 2.6 minutes.
Saving 2.6 minutes per patient per doctor will lead to over an hour per doctor in saved time per day. Multiply that by tens of thousands of primary care doctors and the savings and potential revenue is in the billions. Once coding skills improve, primary care doctors will be able to see an extra 10 patients per day on top of their already scheduled 30-40 patients.
“Doctors will be so ecstatic to help even more patients! They became doctors to help people and once they realize they can see more patients a day, not one will complain,” Mr. Witherspoon told reporters with enthusiasm. “Care needs to be centered around what is billable and what isn’t. Pleasantries aren’t billable and don’t belong in medicine!”
Some facilities are planning to send in robots to data collect and deliver information and detailed instructions to patients. Studies indicate that patients are less likely to ask questions or talk about Johnny at college to a robot, than to a human. The goal is to eliminate all non-billable events that occur during a doctor’s appointment.