Would you sacrifice privacy and modesty for improved access to doctors?

In some cases, the answer is yes.

Yesterday’s Boston Globe talks about group visits, otherwise known as shared medical appointments. If patients accept it, it would seem like a win-win situation. Patients receive improved access, and doctors can generate more revenue, as “many insurers generally pay what they would if the doctor were seeing those patients individually.”

That however, is a big if, as the comments in the article contain a healthy dose of skepticism. Here’s a sampling:

This is nothing short of bizarre.”

Talk to my doctor in front of a bunch of strangers? Not in a million years!”

I think this is ridiculous, patients need private time and the undivided attention of their doctors to properly assess their condition.”

Whose needs are being served here? The argument that it benefits patients just does not stand up to scrutiny.”

If there was ever an indication that the US health care system needed an overhaul, this article is it.”

Judging by this reaction, it’s safe to say that group visits will stay a niche phenomenon. Doctors generally receive no training in group therapy, where there are some nuances that may not be immediately apparent. I, for instance, would have no idea how to conduct a group primary care visit.

This is simply a band-aid to the larger problem of poor primary care access and not enough primary care doctors.

Update:
Here are some tips on how to conduct a group visit.

topics: group, visits

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