Doctors spending more time with patients see better medical outcomes, research says

Posted at 7:32 AM, May 08, 2019

Doctor Christopher Trojanovich says he really wants to know everything when he meets with new patients.

Patients such as Mary Jane Spanfelner.

“He’s very understanding … it takes time to listen to you. And he’ll sit down, and sometimes I’ll talk for a half an hour or more,” Spanfelner said.

Trojanovich spent more than an hour with patient Andrew Buttrell, who says that time spent with the doctor makes a difference with his health needs.

“I think when you spend more time with somebody, you get to know them. They get to know you and you become more like friends talking with each other and solving problems,” Buttrell said.

Trojanovich said it feels good to become the listening ear, and the learner. It helps to make a better health care decision, he said.

New research included in the book "Compassionomics" shows that health outcomes improve when doctors are more compassionate and spend more time with patients. It also makes the doctor happier in his or her work — helping lower the possibility of burnout.

Even just 40 seconds more of time spent with patients changes medical issues, the authors of "Compassionomics" told NPR in an interview.

Findings show more doctor compassion can:
• Improve blood pressure in patients
• Reduce stress for patients
• Alleviate depression, anxiety

Trojanovich is a physician with MDVIP, where there are no set time limits on appointments. It's a national network of nearly 1,000 doctors following a philosophy of patients first, no matter what.

The research shows time is what keeps more than half of physicians from being empathetic. That’s no excuse, Trojanovich says.

Before he enters each patient’s room, he says he just stops.

“Close your eyes for a second, pause, breathe, and say, ‘this could be my mom,’ ‘this could be my dad,’ ‘this is somebody that I care about’ and ‘I want to do a good job today.’”

MDVIP's website says the healthcare group believes the healthcare system has lost its way, and the level of attention that is deserved is what it wants to give.

"We believe healthcare should always put the patient first," reads. "We believe medical care is not one size fits all."