The American healthcare system will have a shortfall of over 40,000 primary care physicians by 2020. This shortfall will most severely impact chronic disease patient populations. To meet the shortfall, nurses and mid-level providers are being asked to provide more of the care that doctors traditionally deliver. However, this solution does not bend the cost curve.
In 2009 the CDC released a report proposing alternative solutions to our exisiting shortfalls in chronic disease management. They concluded that "involving the community has a greater potential to change health behaviors than the traditional doctor visit." They called on doctors to collaborate with community organizations to help reorient patient attitudes regarding chronic disease management. However, most hospitals and clinics don't have the right software tools to enable this.
Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs) have become increasingly common over the past 5 years. In a typical visit, 8-12 similar patients meet with their physician team including a nurse, pharmacist, and social worker. Medical studies show that SMAs increased patient satisfaction, yielded better clinical outcomes, and reduced costs.