Group appointments with doctors: When three isn't a crowd
When visiting the doctor, there may be strength in numbers.
In recent years, a growing number of doctors have begun holding group appointments -- seeing up to a dozen patients with similar medical concerns all at once. Advocates of the approach say such visits allow doctors to treat more patients, spend more time with them (even if not one-on-one), increase appointment availability and improve health outcomes.
Nearly 13 percent of family physicians said they conducted group appointments in 2010, up from 6 percent in 2005, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Some see group appointments as a way to ease looming physician shortages. According to a study published in December, meeting the country's health-care needs will require nearly 52,000 additional primary-care physicians by 2025. More than 8,000 of that total will be needed for the more than 27 million people newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.
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