KAISER PERMANENTE: Offers Patients New Chronic Care Option
Kaiser Permanente Santa Teresa Medical Center in Oakland is offering patients with chronic illnesses the chance to spend an additional 90 minutes each week with their physicians through an innovative new program called Drop-In Group Medical Appointments. Concept pioneer Edward Noffsinger, a senior health psychologist in the Division of Behavioral Medicine, said the program gives patients with illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis and kidney disease an opportunity to meet with their physician and other patients in a supportive group setting. "Drop-in Group Medical Appointments combine the best qualities of a good, 90-minute medical appointment with one's own doctor and a helpful support group with other patients sharing similar issues," said Noffsinger. "It's medical care with a warm, personal touch."
Drop-In Group Medical Appointments
The weekly group appointments provide medical care, information and support. They are held on a drop-in basis and are designed to "complement" regular patient appointments. Both patients and their loved ones are invited to ask medical questions, discuss medications and side effects, and learn about new treatment options. Prescriptions can be changed or refilled, tests ordered and results discussed, and brief private medical exams provided. Dr. Joseph Mason Jr., an oncologist at Santa Teresa, "says that group medical appointments offer a totally new type of service to his cancer patients." He said, "My patients receive the kind of support and education which is not always possible within the confines of an exam room and a brief visit." There are currently nine Drop-In Group Medical Appointments with medical specialists in neurology, endocrinology, rheumatology, oncology and nephrology. Future plans include expanding the scope of the appointments to other medical subspecialties, and moving the program into the primary care arena (Kaiser Permanente release, 6/3).