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STAT: Is There a Best Time of Day to See Your Doctor?

By Mitesh Patel: When it comes to the medical care you receive, it shouldn’t really matter whether you see your doctor in the morning, the middle of the day, or late in the afternoon. But it can. To investigate the effect of time of day on decisions about cancer screening, my team at the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit and I recently examined primary care doctors’ orders for screening tests across the course of the day. We focused on visits with patients who were eligible for either breast or colon cancer screening. We also followed the patients for one year to see who completed these tests and whether or not the visit time mattered there, too. As we report Friday in JAMA Network Open, in almost every doctor’s practice we found the same pattern. Patients seen earlier in the day were more likely to have their doctors order cancer screening tests. At 8 a.m., for example, 64% of women eligible for breast cancer screening left their appointments with an order for a mammogram. That declined to 48% by 5 p.m. We saw a similar pattern for colon cancer screening: At 8 a.m., 37% of those eligible left with colonoscopy orders compared to 23% by 5 p.m. Read more at STAT

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