Physician Practice Roundup—Doctors give patients 11 seconds before interrupting; first practice guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease and more news

Doctors give patients 11 seconds before interrupting

A new study found that doctors give patients only an average of 11 seconds to explain the reason for their visit before interrupting them.

Researchers from the University of Florida conducted the study to explore clinical encounters between doctors and patients. The study found primary care doctors allowed more time than specialists for patients to talk, as specialists generally know the purpose of a patient visit.

“The results of our study suggest that we are far from achieving patient-centered care,” researchers said, adding multiple barriers include time constraints, limited education about patient communication skills or physician burnout. (Journal of General Internal Medicine study)

First practice guidelines for clinical evaluation of Alzheimer’s disease

A workgroup convened by the Alzheimer's Association has developed 20 recommendations for physicians and nurse practitioners to improve the timely and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The guidelines for use in primary and specialty care settings include a recommendation that clinicians provide a timely evaluation for all middle-aged or older individuals who self-report or whose care partner or clinician report cognitive, behavioral or functional changes. Doctors should not dismiss such changes as part of “normal aging” without a proper assessment, according to the report.

Too often, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease go unrecognized or are misattributed, causing delays in appropriate diagnoses and care that are both harmful and costly, the association said. (Alzheimer’s Association announcement)

Pediatricians should also screen fathers for depression

Fathers of young children screened positive for depression almost as often as mothers, a study found.

Fathers frequently attended well-child care visits with their young children and 4.4% screened positive for depression, compared to 5% of mothers who screened positive, the study found. The finding underscored opportunities to educate physicians about the importance of depression in both parents and the need to integrate screening tools into routine care, researchers said.

“Addressing these gaps could improve detection and treatment rates of postnatal depression in both mothers and fathers, which could be critical for ensuring the best possible outcomes for children and their families,” the researchers said. (JAMA Pediatrics study)

Study finds EHR implementation still taking too much time, causing serious errors

While physicians have long complained about the administrative burden of EHRs, a new study quantifies some of those concerns and shows how even commonly used platforms can complicate simple tasks.

The study, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, suggested wide variability in the usability and safety of EHRs.

Researchers observed how long it took four groups of physicians and residents to complete common tasks—like ordering an X-ray or prescribing Tylenol—using EHR platforms made by two major vendors, Epic and Cerner. They also measured how many errors the providers made. (FierceHealthcare)

Doctors, executives see little progress on value-based care

Despite much ink spilled on the transition to value-based healthcare, healthcare executives have little to show for it. 

Most health plan executives believe physicians do not have the tools they need to succeed in value-based healthcare, and as a result, 67% of physicians and health plan executives said the U.S. still has a fee-for-service model, according to a recent study by Quest Diagnostics.

Quest said that although payment structures have changed in recent years to theoretically enable pricing based on health outcomes, the reporting requirements necessary to use those systems can be prohibitively strenuous—particularly if the practice or health system in question lacks a strong IT department. (FierceHealthcare)