Setting up group visits for patients with chronic conditions like obesity takes some planning but can be rewarding, especially if you engage community partners to get involved. Here are six steps to establishing a group visit program in your practice.
1. Choose your focus. Your best bet is to tailor a program to high-volume, costly patients with chronic conditions, older patients with multiple comorbidities, or just those who visit your practice frequently.
2. Determine how often the group will meet. For example, a group visit focused on obesity might meet monthly for six months. Bear in mind that drop-out rates increase in proportion to the length of the meeting and how much time there is between meetings. Sending emails or texts between meetings can help.
3. Enlist clinic support. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one administrative person and two medical assistants for every 15 to 20 patients. To reduce overhead costs, schedule your group meetings in the afternoons or evenings and allow your staff to leave after they’ve completed their tasks.
4. Identify potential patients. ICD-10 codes, disease registries, and prescription data can be rich sources of information for finding patients who would fit well with the focus you’ve chosen for your group.
5. Develop a patient recruitment message. No matter how you extend invitations to your patients (phone, email, in-person, etc.), it’s important to explain the potential benefits of group visits, such as peer support, improved self-care, and better health outcomes. And get confidentiality releases signed before the group visits start.
6. Consider involving community partners. Local businesses or nonprofits that share your goals or have a general public health interest may be willing to join forces, and they may even offer to provide things like nutritious meals or exercise programs that can help with patient recruitment.
Read the full FPM article: “How to Use Group Visits to Manage Obesity.”
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