How to Make the Most of the 15-Minute Med Check

Dawn Pascale


Doing more with less has become something of a cultural mantra, and the medical realm is no exception. From getting patients to prioritize their health and invest in preventive care and maintenance, to optimizing practice resources to meet administrative, revenue and patient-care demands, making the most of even a small 15-minute window is essential. The good news is the 15-Minute Med Check – when implemented and executed strategically – is an opportunity to give patients a thorough and comprehensive checkup and evaluation for further treatment and making recommendations for ongoing care.

Making it Count: The 15-Minute Med Check Done Right

First things first. The Med Check guidelines are just that; a general approach designed to help mental health practitioners cover all the bases when meeting with patients where appropriate. A 15-minute assessment can be enough to get a general perspective on how a patient is progressing; however, it is not a substitute for therapy or treatment.  It is certainly not for complicated cases.  Think of the 15-Minute Med Check as a way to answer a few key questions about the patient in a streamlined fashion:

  • Is the current medication working and is the patient taking it as prescribed?
  • Have there been changes to the patient’s lifestyle or environment that may affect treatment and their overall progress and well-being?
  • Are there new or ongoing concerns?
  • Has there been a new or adjusted diagnosis?
  • Will it be necessary to coordinate care or speak to members of the patient’s family and extended medical team in regard to their care and progress?

The 15-Minute Med Check Framework

The Med Check is a set of guidelines designed to help practitioners structure a question and answer session in order to hit basic patient care points in a smaller window of time. The eight Med Check steps include:

  • Medication – “How’s the medication working for you?”
  • Environmental changes – “Has anything changed in your work or family environment?”
  • Diagnoses – “Have any side effects or secondary conditions flared up since we last met?”
  • Coordination of care – “Tell me about your dealings with the other medical staff.”
  • Handouts – “Here is some literature on your medications therapeutic and side effects.”
  • Empathy – “I am very sorry that you have to go through some more testing.”
  • Costs – “Do you know about the less expensive formulary prescription options?”
  • Knowledge – “Can you please summarize the medication plan we just put in place.”

What the Med Check Doesn’t Include

Obviously, doctors are not magicians, clairvoyants or miracle workers, and as such, there is only so much that can be accomplished in a 15-minute window, no matter how thorough and well planned. In order to maximize facetime with each patient, there are certain aspects of patient care the 15-minute med check doesn’t include. Getting administrative paperwork and case management tasks are taken care of before or after the session will open up more time to actually spend working and connecting with each patient.  Scheduling a few minutes before your appointment to review charts and recall information will help you make the best use of your time with the patient.  It also doesn’t include you reading up on relevant treatment guideline to ensure you are providing evidence-based care.

Find the Right Fit for Your Medical Career and Goals

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