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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
General Health Channel
Reported January 21, 2014

Group Doctor Visits?

SAN DIEGO, Cali. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- You know the drill; you wait and wait to see your doctor only to be rushed along once you actually get in the exam room. But what if there was a better way?

They walk in, shake your hand, check your heart, and before you know it—your time with the doc is up!

However, patients at UC San Diego are testing a new way to see their doctor, with a 90 minute group visit.

“For me, this is about giving patients a choice, giving patients access to me as a physician,” Alexander Kuo, MD, Director of Hepatology, UC San Diego Health System, told Ivanhoe. 

Dr. Alexander Kuo calls one patient at a time to the front of the room for an exam.

The rest of the group watches, listens, and asks questions.

“They’re looking for just more resources, more information, and more help in dealing with their illness,” Dr. Kuo said.

The group meets every four to six weeks in addition to their private appointments. The pilot program offers patients better access to their doctors and each other. 

“They have a lot of shared knowledge and they can teach each other from their shared experiences,” Dr. said.

A recent study showed physicians are seeing less of their patients. Doctors in training spent just eight minutes a day with each patient, that’s only about 12 percent of their time, but they spent almost half of their days in front of a computer screen. 

Christy Dickson-Johnston suffered acute liver failure last year. She decided to try a group visit. She says having the support of her doctor and the other patients helped her cope.

“You’re not alone. It’s so wonderful. You’re sitting there, and you go, ‘Oh, I feel that too,’” Christy told Ivanhoe.

It’s a new idea that could change the way you see your doctor.

Typically, between five and seven patients attend Dr. Kuo’s group visits. They can also bring a guest. At this time, UC San Diego offers the group appointments to patients with diabetes, liver disease, and HIV.

Some places offer group visits instead of private appointments, but Dr. Kuo emphasizes that his group visits are in addition to regular exams. There is no extra charge, just the regular copay.

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If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Emily Farr at


Jacqueline Carr
Communications Director
UC San Diego Health Sciences

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