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Home - by - March 19, 2013 - 21:30 America/New_York - 16 Comments

Everyday Health

Group Appointments With Doctors: When Three Isn’t A Crowd

More doctors are holding appointments with multiple patients, a trend some say may help ease a forecasted shortage of physicians.

TUESDAY, March 19, 2013 (Kaiser Health News) — When visiting the doctor, there may be strength in numbers.

In recent years, a growing number of doctors have begun holding group appointments — seeing up to a dozen patients with similar medical concerns all at once. Advocates of the approach say such visits allow doctors to treat more patients, spend more time with them (even if not one-on-one), increase appointment availability and improve health outcomes.

Some see group appointments as a way to ease looming physician shortages. According to a study published in December, meeting the country’s health-care needs will require nearly 52,000 additional primary-care physicians by 2025. More than 8,000 of that total will be needed for the more than 27 million people newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.

“With Obamacare, we’re going to get a lot of previously uninsured people coming into the system, and the question will be ‘How are we going to service these people well?’ ” says Edward Noffsinger, who has developed group-visit models and consults with providers on their implementation. With that approach, “doctors can be more efficient and patients can have more time with their doctors.”

Some of the most successful shared appointments bring together patients with the same chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. For example, in a diabetes group visit, a doctor might ask everyone to remove their shoes so he can examine their feet for sores or signs of infection, among other things. A typical session lasts up to two hours. In addition to answering questions and examining patients, the doctor often leads a discussion, often assisted by a nurse.

Insurance typically covers a group appointment just as it would an individual appointment; there is no change in the co-pay amount. Insurers generally focus on the level of care provided rather than where it’s provided or how many people are in the room, Noffsinger says.

Some patients say there are advantages to the group setting. “Patients like the diversity of issues discussed,” Noffsinger says. “And they like getting 2 hours with their doctor.”

Patients sign an agreement promising not to disclose what they discuss at the meeting. Although some patients are initially hesitant about the approach, doctors say their shyness generally evaporates quickly.

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» 16 Comments

  1. illustr8r

    March 19th, 2013

    WTF!?! NO WAY.
    I have been spending an unexpected amount of time recently seeing doctors and at no time would I like to share an appointment with 1 or 2 or 3 or 6 or 12 other people.

    I cannot even comprehend this as a viable idea. Yet, we have Obamacare. It’ll be wonderful they all say.

    What do I know.

    Thumb up +5

     
  2. Mary Jane Anklestraps

    March 19th, 2013

    Yeah, I’m paying to hear other people bitch about their hemmies?
    If I had skin cancer, I’m gonna have to fight for time against some asshole that bites his fingernails too deep and another guy who wants a prescription Viagra?
    Bitch, please.

    Even in a room full of the same condition,
    you can’t tell me everyone in the group are ALL at THE SAME stage of that illness.

    Thumb up +3

     
  3. Bad Brad

    March 19th, 2013

    Not a bad idea really. Think of all the money that will be save on latex gloves. You can get all 12 patients at a time bent over for those rectal exams and just go right down the line. NEXT.

    I was scrolling down the comments about to comment myself – right along these lines. You nailed it, Brad. Nothing left to say! – Irony

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  4. harbqll

    March 19th, 2013

    I’m so glad to not be in clinical medicine.

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  5. I M Simpleton

    March 19th, 2013

    Oh stop worrying, this is only for the little people. Nancy Pelosi, Hary Reid and the Obamas will have private doctors for life.

    And any doctor that complains or questions the emperor will suddenly get threatened with losing his license or investigated Joe-the-Plumber style. That’s how it works in military medicine anyway.

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  6. Hank

    March 19th, 2013

    Oh, C’mon people. you assume that you are the worst in a room of 12. There is only an 8.3% chance that you are the worst in the room! And your sales experience that you gained in used cars can even get you the magnitude of the doctors time and attention.

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  7. Mark Zist

    March 19th, 2013

    How about group surgeries?

    Thumb up +1

     
  8. 99th Squad Leader

    March 19th, 2013

    Europe’s National Health Care works like this and everything is going swimmingly. What’s the problem? (sarc)

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  9. Redgrandma

    March 19th, 2013

    The ob-gyns could line up a row of tables with stirrups, then fill em with patients getting Pap smears, “tent” them all and just go down the line with his speculum. I can see it ! Very efficient! Like when they automated milking in the dairy industry.

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  10. Maudie N Mandeville

    March 19th, 2013

    “Advocates of the approach say such visits allow doctors to treat more patients, spend more time with them, increase appointment availability and improve health outcomes.”

    Wow! Just think how great it would be with 100!!

    Thumb up 0

     
  11. JaneLovesJesus

    March 20th, 2013

    Please tell me this is an article about the Russian healthcare system.

    Thumb up 0

     
  12. Bad Brad

    March 20th, 2013

    Irony, Thanks, I visit here for quick wit, you are one of the best.

    Thumb up 0

     
  13. Carlos The Jackal

    March 20th, 2013

    Sounds like they’re totally missing the concept of group insurance…

    Thumb up +2

     
  14. sileceal

    March 20th, 2013

    What about all those supposed “patient privacy” (what a joke!) documents one signs EVERYwhere one goes? It’s the law, dontchaknow. But what law ever stopped these b——s?

    Thumb up +1

     
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