The “group appointment” model of care

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are highly prevalent among underserved populations. Their lack of diagnosis and early intervention may lead over time to devastating consequences for the affected individuals and their families. For example, in Latino neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, there is an average of 15 adults with diabetes per block, of which only 5 are presently being treated.

Group medical appointments is a cost-effective model of medical care which combines medical treatment, group support, and health education to address the chronic disease needs of a group of persons. In one example of group visits, 10 patients are seen simultaneously over a two-hour period, allowing for health education and group support to occur while having one’s medical concerns addressed. Patients also meet with the provider one-on-one if necessary.

Periodic medical visits to communities are a low-cost, convenient, and effective alternative for the management the majority of chronic disease needs of individuals in any given community. Coupled with community-wide screening for chronic diseases such as diabetes and early intervention techniques such as the establishment of walking groups, this low-cost approach to health care prevents or slows the development of the majority of complications associated with chronic medical conditions.