The growing movement of ‘slow medicine’ gives more patient-doctor time

Reporter: Amy Oshier

Have you ever felt like you were spending too much time in the waiting room and not getting enough time with your doctor?

That’s one of the most common complaints about health care visits, and it leads to a lot of patient frustration.

Now, there’s a new patient-centered movement designed to reverse the course of treatment.

Diane Gardner goes to her doctor’s office here in Southwest Florida, prepared to wait as long as it takes. She said, “I moved here a year ago; I’ve been to the doctor probably four times, and every single time they tell me to get there 10 minutes before.”

Her visits have been relatively on time, but spending a long time in a waiting room for a short visit with a doctor is a top complaint of patients in SWFL – and nationwide.

“It’s because, you know, time is of the essence with all things, especially if you’re sick,” Gardner said.

Dr. Melinea Holman is a holistic doctor at the Fort Myers-based Center for Health & Healing. When you go to the traditional doctor, she says, “it’s volume, volume, volume, volume, volume.”

Holman said she has taken her practice in a different direction, to an old style of medicine that is focused on the patient and not the clock.

“My average session is 30 to 45 minutes, a new patient is an hour and 15 minutes. Slow medicine is, when you spend time with the clients.” Holman said.

Taking a queue from the slow food movement, where cooks devote extra time and attention to preparing meals, slow medicine aims to do the same thing with health care.

“When you’re looking at slow medicine, it’s considered having time with your doctor to really describe what’s going on, not just in your body, but what’s going on in your world so that they can get a good picture of everything that’s going on so that they can better diagnose and better treat,” Holman explained.

The slow medicine movement emphasizes overall well-being. Many patients come in with a chronic sense of not feeling well.

Getting to the source of their issue is a slow process that may require metabolic or another diagnostic testing.

“We like to be detectives to find out what it is what’s going on,” Holman said. “And we get such a thrill when we figure out this is what it is and the patients are doing well.”

It’s just what the doctor ordered for people who want a more comprehensive approach to their health.

While slow medicine is growing in popularity, it may not be covered fully by insurance. So take a look at your policy and ask questions in advance if you’re interested in trying it.

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