Shared Medical Appointment: An Innovative Practice Model

A visit to a physician can always be such a tense moment. This is often characterized with a lot of anxiety and high expectations on the part of the patient. As a patient you want to get well. Yet you are also torn between the desire to get well and the fear of negative outcomes. It is usually worse with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, asthma and ulcers.

It is based on such considerations and a hoard of others that it becomes necessary for the medical practitioner to adopt a method or initiate one that is more likely to make the medical appointment a less excruciating experience.

If the practitioner is able to turn the tension of the moment into a fun filled experience then it is a definite straight up success. It is not just the victim who enjoys the benefit of the experience with the medic, rather, the medical expert also stands to derive considerable gratification from handling a satisfied patient. No palm wetting, no forehead sweats; just a cool and non-tense exchange between a medic and his or her patient.

Impetus for the shared medical appointment approach

The shared medical appointment can be said to be resulting from the above line of considerations, to make the experience a natural process.

This shared medical appointment model, also referred to as group visits, cluster visits or problem solving drop-in group medical appointments (DIGMA) has been orchestrated with the core objective of inspiring the medical practitioner to come up with, implement and appraise shared medical appointments chiefly for patients with diabetes.

The model is basically an innovative approach that has a distinctly different methodology as opposed to the usual diabetes education classes. It involves a group of 12 to 16 patients meeting up with a doctor, medical assistant, behaviorist, nurse, and dedicated documenter for a time period of one and a half hours.

The traditional diabetic classes on the other hand usually address self-management techniques, the question of exercise and recommended nutrition for these patients. The group visits provide medical evaluation, the coordination and provision of precautionary services, mechanisms of adjusting medication, all which often miss in the ordinary diabetic classes.

The model succeeds in its conception as being innovative since it is found to improve the care offered to conventional patients of chronic disorders which primarily include diabetes as well as asthma, coronary disease, and urological conditions by aiding the use of available resources far more efficiently.


The majority of successful shared medical appointment programs have included an element of case management and between-visit care coordination. The program is traditionally headed by a nurse, a physician or nurse practitioner.

If you set up a limited component of care management for group of patients who attend the programs of these cluster visits the program can be quite a useful step toward a wider use of care coordination within your field of practice.

A patient of diabetes may use these shared medical appointment programs in the place of a primary care or they can as well alternate the two sets of care arrangements: group visits and the one-on-one care units.

Other than the group education services typically offered in group visits, collective problem-solving, focused secluded or partially private health evaluations which allow for personalized medication adjustment; the programs may also involve ordering of referrals and preemptive services.

The sessions may always vary. They may go from one hour to even several hours depending with the physician-patient arrangements. Each session may have a varied number of attendees, with the typical maximum being 20 persons.

Benefits of the Group Visits Model

shared-medical-appointment Past medical records have indicated that patients generally enjoy interacting in a shared form of environment. There are less cases of tension associated with medical situations and this can always provide a lot of encouragement to those who attend the sessions while providing them with essential tips that may not be received in a short medical visit.

Physicians also benefit from the change of pace typical of these programs and have a chance to innovatively and much more thoroughly attend to the matters presented by chronic disorders which are common in most of the primary care circumstances.

Evaluations of the shared medical appointments have also reported a general increase in satisfaction levels of the patients and clinicians along with improved quality of care offered in the cluster situations. There have also been a reduction in the aggregate emergency section and specialist visits by these patients. This indicates a general possibility of increased perfection in following the directions provided during the sessions.

What makes the cluster visits even more beneficial is the communal environment created by the group approaches. Patients are able to share experiences freely and feel relieved by the existence of certain critical but shared experiences. It is human nature that you feel better when you know that you are not alone in your situation. Just the environment alone, the sight of many people supposedly in for the same course is enough to relax a patient’s nerves.

The patients attending the sessions are able to share their concerns collectively and get responses. This may help in two different ways. A patient who is either shy or simply unwilling to ask a pressing question may benefit from another patient asking the same. Secondly, a patient may get response to a question that he or she might have forgotten to ask the nurse or the physician in attendance. In general, the patients learn from the healthcare team in session, from one another as well as from the environment itself.

About the doctor

Dr. Dalal Akouri has years or experience attending to patients with various life threatening chronic illnesses and is proud to have improved the lives of such patients. You too can join this vast community of patients who have seen the fruits of her work by contacting het today.

Shared Medical Appointment: An Innovative Practice Model

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