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Group Appointments?

Guest Lynne Clemens

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Physicians Offer Group Medical Appointments to Provide Quicker Access, Spend More Time With Patients

Thursday December 12, 2:14 pm ET



GARLAND, Texas, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Want to have more time with your primary care physician? Try a group appointment. Two primary care physicians affiliated with Family Medical Center of North Garland, part of Baylor Health Care System, offer established patients a new medical appointment option to give the patients quicker access, more time with their physician and additional information obtained from interacting with others.

Shared group medical appointments involve a group of up to 10 patients meeting together for a 90-minute appointment with the physician.


Cliff Fullerton, M.D., and Kimberly McMillin, M.D., are the first physicians in North Texas to offer shared group medical appointments after learning about the concept at a meeting sponsored by the Institute of Health Care Improvement, Palo Alto, Calif. They began a pilot study in July.


"Group appointments allow us to spend more time with our patients, discussing any concerns or questions they might have. From the patient perspective, our patients tell us that they enjoy the group setting because the other patients provide support as they share information among themselves about similar experiences," said Dr. Fullerton. "These group medical visits have gotten high ratings in our patient satisfaction surveys."


At the beginning of the 90-minute group visit, a nurse or medical assistant takes each participant's vital signs. The physician then addresses each patient's individual needs, and a group co-leader, Harold Duncan, a licensed professional counselor, facilitates a discussion about common related social and emotional issues. Prior to the appointment, each patient and guest signs a confidentiality waiver. The group appointments occur every Thursday with Drs. McMillin and Fullerton alternating weeks.


As deemed appropriate by the physician, some basic physical examination, such as evaluating an injured limb, breathing or heart rate, takes place during the session. At the end of the group appointment, the physician conducts any private exams or discussions as needed.


Group appointments are scheduled at regular times, every other week. The appointments are most beneficial for patients who:


   -- have a chronic condition, such as arthritis, hypertension, asthma,

      diabetes or depression (MaryONote:  Cushing's???)

   -- require routine follow-up appointments such as pregnancy

   -- want to get to know their physician better

   -- have a non-emergency need, but do need to talk to the doctor.



"I feel like I am getting to know my patients better through these appointments, and the dynamic of the group setting brings shared knowledge and encouragement to the participants," said Dr. McMillin.


Billing for a group medical appointment uses the physician office's standard billing process. The co-pay is the same as a regular office visit.


Family Medical Center at North Garland is part of Baylor Health Care System. Both physicians are on the staff of Baylor Medical Center at Garland, which is a 220-bed community hospital offering comprehensive medical and surgical services ranging from 24-hour emergency care to cardiovascular surgery. The medical center serves residents of Garland, Rowlett, Sachse, Wylie and the surrounding region.

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I don't know Lynne, I think they'd love it and it would kind of like being a support group for cushies at the same time.  I think the appt. would run longer than 90 minutes though because anytime I've been around another cushie it's yack away.  My dream when I do go back to work, I was a registered nurse for 20 years, would be to start a support group for people and families with rare diseases, where they could go and vent and have support.  My son who is 8 also has a rare incurable disease.  We're the medic alert family.  Anyway, I think it's a great idea.  Palo Alto is where I took my son every 2-3 months for 5 years when he was sick before I got my cushings.  It's about 1-1/2 hours from my house.  I'm sticking to my cushing endo at UCSF, don't even see my primary care MD anymore.  To me most docs are useless, what I unfortunately learned the hard way with this whole cushing experience.  I use my best judgment and heck, I had probably as much training and more experience then most of them by now. I go with my gut and if there's a real problem, I call my PCP and ask his opinion.  Got to love the idea of getting a bunch of us cushies together though.  There certainly are enough of us around the Bay Area, in the Palo Alto area but I wonder if these guys have any cushings experience.  Hate to go to a doctor just to educate him and then have to pay him for it on top of it.   Later, Val

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