Where primary care visits are up to 30 minutes long: come learn from @GroupHealth on March 25, 2011

Group Health Solutions for Transforming Care, “Innovating Through Engagement,” Friday, March 25, 2011, 8:30 – 4:30, Westin Seattle Hotel, $75

The title of this post comes from a conversation that was had at last week’s roundtable on patient centered care (click here to see the photos and description), around the legend of the “7 minute primary care visit with your doctor.” There’s an undeniable fact that when that’s dropped into a conversation, it gets noticed, because no one likes or wants them, doctors and patients alike.

There’s another fact about the 7 minute visit, which is that there are organizations that don’t have them. You don’t create 30 minute visits with primary care physicians by just lengthening the appoint time, though, that won’t work.

Group Health Cooperative (my alma mater, I am biased) has done an incredible amount of work realigning an entire health system to create just the reality that people seek, comprehensive care from a personal physician that’s coordinated across the spectrum of health care, including specialty care and hospitalizations.

I paid a visit and posted some photographs on this blog, and I’m going to go back and see in April. You don’t have to wait for my report, though, because Group Health is hosting an event in Seattle, “Innovating through Engagement,” on March 25, 11, that’s open to the public, and will showcase the people and innovations that made this happen. Innovations, that have been widely recognized in the physician world as noted by Group Health Physicians Medical Director Michael Soman, MD.

I would personally like to see a lot of social media enthusiast types go, selfishly so I can learn in advance of my trip, selfishly so the rest of health care can come to see that the impossible really is possible.

Ok, enough words, watch this video of Elizabeth Cohen from CNN paying a visit. As you watch this, imagine that this care system is saving not just money for its patients, it’s saving that thing they can never get back if they waste it – their time.


30 minute consultations – excellent!

The model works. The challenge is finding ways to align medical incentives for physicians and clinicians for the rest of the US medical system to spend longer on patient consultations.

It requires doctors and clinicians to be on salary, and a health provider that picks up savings from keeping their population healthy long-term, rather than fee-for-service which encourages the production line mentality of "more and quicker is better".

If they had the opportunity, how many doctors in the US do you think would be keen to accept a constant and decent salary rather than "work a business", Ted?

Hi Hamish,

Well, I can't answer your question, since I'm one of the physicians that made the aforementioned choice :).

I can tell you based on my experience that this (the choice) was not really discussed in my medical education (ok, not discussed at all), so I suspect that many of my colleagues just fell in to the business model of choice. I recently hosted a discussion on Sermo.com with fellow physicians on a related topic and I did not have a chance to peel back all the layers of business model choice, however I did learn there are a lot of layers to peel back,


Ted Eytan, MD