Making the 15 Minutes More Valuable: It’s Time to Flip the Clinic

By Steve Downs

Steve Downs is chief technology and information officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This post originally appeared on on April 20, 2014.  

Fifteen minutes. Give or take. That’s about how long a patient typically spends with a primary care doctor during an office visit. If you’re lucky enough to be healthy, maybe that visit comes once every year or two.  Or if you’re less healthy, maybe every few months. In either case, it’s not a lot of time. Not a lot of time to share all the relevant developments. Not a lot of time to determine what to make of them. Not a lot of time to set a course going forward. And not a lot of time to absorb it all. It stands to reason that we should figure out how to make the most of this precious 15 minutes.

When Sal Khan — whom many think is revolutionizing education — talks about Khan Academy, he talks about “flipping the classroom.” He does this in several ways, but the fundamental flip is that he moved the delivery of information (i.e., the lecture) outside of the classroom so that class time (and the teacher’s and students’ time together) could be used for problem solving, assisting and assessing. This flip was enabled by YouTube — and that’s key. Technology made it possible to envision a different way.


Photo credit Geraint Rowland