What did I say?
I bumped into my GP the other day.
We were both walking our dogs, and fell into step along the old railway line – as we quite often seem to do. He knows I work in medicine, and so he sometimes opens up about his thoughts in a way that he wouldn’t do with most of his patients. I suppose we’ve become friends over the years, though.
For some time he’s been worrying about the way his patient face-time is being cut. The practice now runs a strict 10-minute-max consultation rule, except by prior arrangement (you book a two-topic session, which gives you 20 minutes of his time – assuming he has 20 minutes to spare). That’s all very well, and it means that the partners get through their lists by the end of the session. But he was worried that much of what he tells his patients doesn’t have time to sink in.
One particular case came to mind. A middle-aged man with high blood pressure wasn’t doing as well as he should, so the GP doubled his dose of antihypertensives. Two weeks later there was a repeat prescription request in his in-tray; it turns out the patient had not only started on 200mg tablets instead of 100mg, he was also taking them twice a day instead of once. (The numbers might not be right, but you get the principle.)
I think the way he’s chosen to deal with this problem is ingenious in its simplicity. He reserves the final minute of the consultation for what he calls “tell me what I told you”, and he gets the patient to rehearse his instructions back to him until he’s certain the patient has understood.
It seems to work, he says.