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Doctors Take Sharing to a New Level

Robert Goldberg of Wellesley, Mass., discusses his concerns about new heart treatments and medicines with his cardiologist—and about 10 other patients. 

Goldberg is one of a growing number of patients participating in a new way of providing health care—shared medical appointments. SMAs allow as many as 15 patients to schedule an appointment with one doctor for a 90-minute session. The physician interacts with individual patients as needed, but usually addresses questions with the entire group.

“Physically and emotionally, I feel [shared appointments] have a value and benefit that regular physician appointments don’t have,” Goldberg says.

The benefit, supporters say, is that you get to spend more time with your doctor and see others who are dealing with the same issues.

Shared appointments may not be appropriate for every medical encounter, says Goldberg’s cardiologist, Gene Lindsey, M.D., president and CEO of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates of Boston. But he thinks they have a promising future. “There’s a pressing issue in medicine, and the issue is one of access,” Lindsey says.

Angela Bryant Starke is a writer based in Knoxville, Tenn.

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