What are group medical visits?
Group medical visits (GMV) are like a regular doctor's appointment but instead of meeting one-on-one, you'll join a group of people with similar medical conditions for education, discussion and support. Often, the GMV is facilitated by more than one provider so the group benefits from multiple areas of expertise. GMVs are covered by most insurers and have been shown to improve health outcomes, the patient experience and provider efficiencies. Common features of group medical visits include:
- A group of patients who meet in one location for 60 to 120 minutes
- Facilitation by an interdisciplinary team of providers
- Established ground rules, such as confidentiality, for group interactions
- Interactive learning activities
- Education and discussion on shared health topics
- Opportunities for socializing and community-building within the group
- Health assessments
- Goal setting
MaineHealth offers group medical visits for a variety of medical conditions and situations such as:
- Chronic disease prevention and wellness
- Opioid use disorder (OUD)
- Hospital to home transitions
- Weight and Wellness
Program Details and FAQs
MaineHealth offers lifestyle and wellness group medical visits for people who have, or are at risk for developing, chronic illnesses such as diabetes, chronic pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, heart disease and cancer. Participants learn how to make healthy choices, work towards behavior change and set goals that can prevent, treat, or better manage chronic disease. Discussions may include:
- Symptom/pain management
- Thoughts and emotions
- Relationships with others
- Mindfulness techniques
What to Expect
- Weekly, virtual visits with a physician and health coach over the course of 4 weeks
- A focus on lifestyle habits with goal setting for slow, sustainable changes that are monitored by providers and supported by the curriculum and other participants
- Guest sessions with experts in psychology, physical therapy, cooking and more
- Remote patient monitoring tools including a personal Bluetooth scale and blood pressure cuff
- A tablet to help you track your goals, communicate with your health coach and access recommended educational resources
- Expert curriculum, materials and resources accessible to all group participants
- Weekly sessions billed to your health insurance as an office visit (you may be responsible for co-payments)
- Additional sessions available as extensions to the initial 4-week program, including maintenance groups
- An option to repeat the initial 4-week session for a total of 8 weeks per year
Am I at risk for chronic disease?
Conditions that put you at risk for chronic diseases include:
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Depression and anxiety
How do I join?
- Patient self-referral: Please contact Amy Pearl, RN, MA at email@example.com
- Provider referrals: MaineHealth providers may refer through EPIC: ref 8070, Amb ref Lifestyle and Wellness Group Medical Visit
- Referred patients will be contacted by our health coach with further details about the group.
- Amy Pearl, RN, MA
- Theodore R Wissink, MD
MaineHealth group medical visits for opioid use disorder (OUD) provide integrated medication assisted therapy (IMAT) in a supportive group setting. Participants can share their experiences and insights with others who have similar life experiences. This focus is on acceptance, while staying accountable to yourself and other group members. Some groups are tailored to people who are new to treatment, and in the induction and stabilization phase of recovery. And some groups for people who are farther down the path, in the maintenance phase of recovery.
What to Expect
Prior to each session, you will be asked to provide a urine sample for drug screening. The meeting will start with introductions of group leaders and participants as well as a review of group rules such as strict confidentiality. Then, each group member will be asked to provide an update on their progress since the last meeting. You will be asked to talk about:
- What stressors or triggers you have encountered
- What, if any, drugs you have used
- How you are doing emotionally
- What progress you have made toward your goals
- New goals you would like to set for the next meeting
- How you plan to support your own recovery
This portion of the meeting us usually followed by an educational discussion. The discussion topic may be an issue that was brought up during the first part of the meeting, or it may be a previously chosen topic such as:
- Education about buprenorphine and your health
- The psychology of substance use disorder
- Non-opioid pain management strategies
Groups may consist of up to 12 members, but are typically fewer than eight. Group visits typically last 60-90 minutes, depending on the number of members, and their phase of treatment. You may be asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to the group meeting start time to allow for urine drug screening and any other needed assessments.
The Diabetes Group Medical Visits at Portland Family Medicine are for people with a confirmed diabetes diagnosis. Group size is limited to 10 people. In this group you will:
- Learn about managing diabetes with other people having a similar experience
- Understand how nutrition and exercise can help avoid further medications
- Review home blood sugars and medication changes, as necessary
- Achieve personal health goals for a longer, healthier life
- Begin with weekly visits, then space out to monthly check-ins
What to Expect
At the first group visit, you will be asked to sign a confidentially agreement to ensure privacy for you and your fellow group members. Each group member will also be asked to complete an introductory diabetes knowledge quiz. Don't worry. You won't be graded. The quiz results will simply help your group leaders decide which topics to cover during your upcoming group sessions.Each week the group will meet to learn about a different aspect of living with diabetes such as:
Group meetings are co-facilitated by a physician and a clinical pharmacist. You will meet with the physician to review your diabetes care routine, as well as any other medical conditions you may have. And the clinical pharmacist will review your diabetes medication and testing plan and make recommendations for improvement, if needed. Group meetings are typically two hours long, which includes time for a medical assistant to check your vital signs, such as A1C level, prior to the start of the group visit.
Diabetes Group Medical Visit Schedule:
- Step 1: Weekly group visits during the first month
- Step 2: Every other week visits during the second month
- Step 3: Monthly group visits as needed
- Step 4: Transition back to your PCP for ongoing care
Group Leaders: Adam Normandin, MD and Corinn Martineau
MaineHealth Hospital to Home Group Medical Visits help transition people from complicated hospital stays back to their homes and communities.
You (and your caregiver, if applicable) will meet with a physician and other medical providers and educators to
- Learn about your medical condition(s)
- Review medications
- Develop a transition plan
- Arrange for follow-up medical care
- Coordinate other community resources
You may also meet with a clinical pharmacist, behavioral health specialists, nurses, medical assistants, care managers, medical residents and other people who are transitioning from hospital to home.Groups typically meet for a total of 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Group Leader: Allison Hanson
MaineHealth Weight and Wellness group medical visits happen at the same time as your behavioral and/or nutrition group meeting. This provides a convenient opportunity to participate in a group visit and check in with a doctor on your weight and wellness plan at the same time.
What to Expect
The first half of the visit is the medical portion. During this time, each person will meet individually with a medical provider to review their weight and wellness plan and any other chronic medical conditions. The provider will review your medications, review your lab results and discuss a follow-up plan. The second half of the visit is the group meeting portion. A facilitator will present weight and wellness education topics and lead a group discussion.
Group size is limited to 12 people and the meetings time frame is 90 minutes. However, you may be asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to group start time to allow for your individual medical assessment.
Group Leader: Matija Burgis, DO
Group medical visits are led by primary care physicians, medical specialists, health coaches and/or behavioral health providers.
Group Medical Visits are billed to your health insurance provider. You may be responsible for a co-payment at each visit. A referral from your primary care provider (PCP) is required to participate. Please talk to your doctor about joining a MaineHealth GMV. For more information or questions:
Prevention and Wellness GMV
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Portland Phone: 207-874-2466
- Falmouth Phone: 207-781-1500
The Preventive Medicine Enhancement for Maine (PrevME) program was established to improve health outcomes and prevent chronic disease by integrating public health best practices into clinical care at the system level. Tools such as group medical visits (GMVs) help bridge the gap between public health programs and the traditional, one-on-one, clinical scenario. Other tactics include:
- Curriculum developmental for all levels of medical learners
- Creation of tools and improved workflows for practical clinical application of preventive medicine
- New "Leadership in Preventive Medicine Residency (LPMR)" program
- The Greater Good Science Center: articles, podcasts, videos, quizzes and more about Wellness
- Stanford WellMD anonymous on-line self-test: test yourself using 17 different measures of wellness
- "Effectiveness of group medical visits for improving diabetes care: a systematic review and meta-analysis"
- Housden L, Wong ST, Dawes M. Effectiveness of group medical visits for improving diabetes care: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ. 2013;185(13):E635-E644. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23939218/
- Edelman D, McDuffie JR, Oddone E, Gierisch JM, Nagi A, Williams JW Jr. Shared Medical Appointments for Chronic Medical Conditions: A Systematic Review. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US); July 2012.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22916369/
- Geller JS, Kulla J, Shoemaker A. Group Medical Visits Using an Empowerment-based Model as Treatment for Women With Chronic Pain in an Underserved Community. Glob Adv Health Med. 2015;4(6):27-60. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.7453/gahmj.2015.057
- Jaber R, Braksmajer A, Trilling J. Group visits for chronic illness care: models, benefits and challenges. Fam Pract Manag. 2006;13(1):37-40.https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2006/0100/p37.html
- Wong ST, Browne A, Lavoie J, Macleod ML, Chongo M, Ulrich C. Incorporating Group Medical Visits into Primary Healthcare: Are There Benefits?. Healthc Policy. 2015;11(2):27-42.https://europepmc.org/article/MED/26742114