Mini-Group Visits May Be Beneficial in Diabetes

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Mini-Group Visits May Be Beneficial in Diabetes
Mini-Group Visits May Be Beneficial in Diabetes

(HealthDay News) — Mini-group visits yield good results among patients with diabetes, according to a report published by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Devin Sawyer, MD, director of the Providence St. Peter Family Medicine residency program in Olympia, Washington, describes his experience with mini-group visits among patients with diabetes. 

Based on the idea that patients with diabetes could benefit from meeting others with the same diagnosis, Sawyer established mini groups of patients; a group size of three patients appeared to be most beneficial.

A designated medical assistant is involved in doing the preparatory work for these visits, including scheduling lab work ahead of time.

Sawyer reports having seen success using mini-group visits, which do not replace the patients' regular office visits, but rather augment them. The group visits work best when the same patients meet for group visits every 3 to 4 months. 

Other groups of patients can also benefit from group visits, including those who are trying to quit smoking and pregnant teenagers. 

The two biggest barriers to these group visits are "productivity widgets" and the payment system, according to the article. The need to see patients during short periods of time, regardless of the patient's actual needs, is a major issue, while attempting to do group visits with no related codes, codes that reimburse poorly or codes that aren't reimbursed my many insurers places a financial burden on the practice. 

"Part of the frustration of primary care is the concept of noncompliant patients," Sawyer said in a statement. "And really, it's our own fault. We have plugged patients into these 15-minute time slots, tell them what to do, and then wonder why they didn't do it. Instead, we need to use motivational techniques to get them engaged and ready to participate."

Read more about mini-group visits for patients with diabetes.

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