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A Care Manager Quiz

patient questionWhat takes 11 minutes and 18 seconds and sends you home with 10% of what the 11 minutes had to offer?
The answer is in two parts. Starting with the second, this is why it can be very helpful for a geriatric care manager to attend a doctor’s visit with your older loved one. First, the average patient accurately retains about 10 percent of the information that a health care provider imparts in an average medical visit. The 11 minutes and 18 seconds is the average length of a medical visit with a health care provider. These figures are from a recent health care survey conducted nationally.
And there is more. The survey showed that an average of about 20% of what is said in a medical visit is retained following a healthcare visit, so the 10 percent figure I cited is what is retained accurately. This is the part that concerns me because it underscores not only how little of a conversation with a provider actually goes home with a patient, but also that half of it is just plain wrong. It also underscores why we as geriatric care managers find it extremely beneficial to the patient to actually attend the medical visit with them. Geriatric care managers bring along their pad of paper and a pen so that we can boost that percentage of information closer to 100%. And there is another piece of information that is interesting about the survey. It says that 63% of the talking in a medical visit is done by the doctor, and only 36% is from the patient. If you do the math there is 1 percent not accounted for. That is the average talking done by a typical caregiver accompanying a patient.
When a geriatric care manager is involved with a caregiver and their loved one, we will strongly encourage that we attend any medical appointments. Some of our caregiver clients refer to us as their eyes and ears, but we also are the voice for them and for their older loved ones. We don’t just work to make the percentage of the accurate information that goes home with the patient closer to 100 percent, but we also ask important questions that help to clarify why the provider is recommending the medicine or therapy that they do. What is the prognosis? What else can be expected in the way of side effects or other issues? And how can the team work toward better functional status and quality of life?
Another important fact that is hidden in these bits of data about provider-patient interactions in the office: these figures are for a cross-section of all Americans. So what do you think the figures are for patients “of an age?” Do they retain more information and more of it accurately?
If you are a caregiver with an older loved one anticipating a medical visit, consider giving them the advantage of getting a huge return on their investment of time with the doctor. Invite a professional set of eyes, ears and voice to accompany them. You will be pleased with what your loved one brings home from the doctor.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to


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