Shared Medical Appointments Touted as Effective and Efficient

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A growing number of physicians around the nation are embracing shared medical appointments as an effective and efficient way to treat increasing numbers of patients with chronic disease.

Shared medical appointments beneficial for both patient and physician, some say.

Group medical appointments beneficial for both patient and physician, some say.

 

The nation’s health care overhaul means millions more Americans will gain insurance coverage and access to doctors. Group appointments may be an answer to meeting the health care needs of a burgeoning patient population, especially in areas where there are physician shortages.

According to a recent study, 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.”

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 12.7 percent of family physicians conducted group visits in 2010, up from 5.7 percent in 2005.

Proponents say the model allows patients to get appointments faster and spend more time with doctors. Patients often learn from questions others raise and how others are managing their disease. Research shows that for certain patients, group visits can reinforce healthy behaviors and reduce emergency room visits, reports The Los Angeles Times. Another plus: physicians like not having to repeat themselves several times a day to people with the same ailments.

Some studies have found that group visits can improve health outcomes. In an Italian trial that randomly assigned more than 800 Type 2 diabetes patients to either group or individual care, the group patients had lower blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI levels after four years than the patients receiving individual care, reports Kaiser Health News.

Read entire Los Angeles Times article here.

Read entire Kaiser Health News article here.