Only 48 seconds for a patient!

Physicians in Bangladesh spend only 48 seconds for each patient seeking primary healthcare, says a global study.

A total of 179 studies were identified from 111 publications covering 28,57,0712 consultations in 67 countries under the survey.

The average consultation length varied across the world, ranging from 48 seconds in Bangladesh to 22.5 minutes in Sweden, the study found.

“We found that 18 countries representing about 50 percent of the global population spend five minutes or less with their primary care physicians. We also found significant associations between consultation length and healthcare spending per capita, admissions to hospital with ambulatory sensitive conditions such as diabetes, primary care physician density, physician efficiency and physician satisfaction,” according to medical journal BMJ.

The study expressed concern that a large proportion of the global population have only a few minutes with their primary care physicians.

Such a short consultation length was likely to adversely affect patient healthcare and physician workload and stress, said the study.

There were 15 countries with their most recently reported consultation length at less than five minutes, 25 countries with 5-9.9 minutes, 11 countries with 10-14.9 minutes, 13 countries with 15-19.9 minutes and three countries with less than or equal to 20 minutes.

Australia, the UK and the USA had sufficient data points to determine long-term trends. In Australia, the consultation length was relatively stable, in the USA it was increasing (by 12 seconds a year), and in the UK it was going up (by 4.2 seconds a year).

The research mentioned that 18 countries covering 50 percent of the world’s population have a latest reported mean consultation length of five minutes or less.

The reasons for such striking differences may reflect a number of factors, including issues relating to governance, workforce, access, continuity, comprehensiveness and coordination, it added.

For example, in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, there is no appointment system, and individual primary care physicians may undertake over 90 consultations a day with a considerable amount of time taken up providing repeat prescriptions.

The study was carried out to describe the average primary care physician consultation length in economically developed and low-income/middle-income countries, and to examine the relationship between consultation length and organisational-level economic and health outcomes.

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