Group Visits: My Patients Love Them and So Do I!
by Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, APNP, NCMP
Do Your Patients Need to Know How to Better Manage Their Stress, Heal Their Gut and Support Their Immune Health?
My Patients Needed to Know, Attended Our Group Visits and Then Asked for
It's my hope that this article inspires you to offer Group Visits to your patients. With the tools, support and coaching offered by the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center, I know every practitioner can do this! In 2009, I founded a highly successful, cash-based, functional medicine, hormone practice called Wise Woman Wellness in De Pere, WI. We have steadily grown in size and services offered and now see hundreds of women every month struggling with the same health life issues—nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, mental and emotional stress, sleep cycle disturbances, inflammation, digestive issues, too much to do and too little time, etc.
I had grown a bit weary repeating the same education on topics such as stress management, gut health and immune system support to many of my patients. Some of my patients were willing and prepared to implement lifestyle and behavior changes to improve their health from the education they received during our one-on-one visits. But I also knew the familiar nodding of a patient's head, as I was delivering the best education I could, with limited time and tools. It was really her attempt to appease me. She most likely would not change her diet or behavior no matter what I said, no matter how many times I said it! I knew there had to be a better way to help some of my patients.
Several years ago, I helped facilitate Group Visits (also called Shared Medical Appointments) in a traditional primary care setting while leading implementation of the Chronic Care Model across a mid-sized health system in Wisconsin. I witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of a Group Visit on patient health outcomes, and the enjoyment experienced by patients and providers alike while also improving our clinical quality measures. It was truly remarkable to see the power of the group help a struggling patient overcome resistance and decide to make a change. Group Visits simply offer more time and support, and I knew I needed to start Group Visits in my current practice, but I didn’t have the proper resources. I wanted the forms, patient handouts and presentation slides all professionally done for me—or better yet, a great video I could simply play!
Last year, I found what I needed when I met with Josiah Bartz, Business Development Manager at the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center. He shared with me the many clinical resources available for purchase to offer a cutting-edge, functional medicine Group Visit. I literally purchased a "Group Visit in a Box" on three different topics! In total, they offer six informative topics. He also offered advice on how to make money by offering Group Visits, billing, coding, documentation, room set-up and how to approach recommending Group Visit attendance to my patients.
We host a Group Visit on Tuesday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. and offer one of five different presentations designed to teach a variety of topics, such as the negative effects of chronic stress and its connection to disease, the importance of healthy GI function and how it relates to chronic illness, and how to build and maintain a strong immune system. I love having the tools from a trusted source and I did not have to recreate the wheel to use them.
We have marketed our Group Visits in various ways: by word of mouth, on our website, social media, emails blasts and by visible flyers located in many places in our practice. We contribute monthly articles in a regional natural health and wellness magazine and have written about Group Visits. We also discuss our Group Visits at our three-hour presentation that we require all our patients attend before their first visit. Our nurse practitioners also refer patients directly to the Group Visit during their one-on-one appointments and put the referral in the patient’s medical records. A strong recommendation from the provider and incorporating this into the patient's treatment plan is an effective method of promotion.
Because this is a new form of patient visit, it may take some time for some patients to adopt it. For every single patient who has attended our Group Visits, it has been a welcome change. Because it is a new concept to many, patients can be guarded about sharing their health issues and are hesitant to sign up. Once they experience or participate in a Group Visit, they realize how helpful this venue can be! Feedback has been amazing and all positive; in fact, I have been asked to offer more Group Visit topics. I look forward to our Tuesday afternoon Group Visits for the positive effect on time management, revenue and lasting lifestyle change. Try offering Group Visits in your practice, you’ll be glad you did!
Wise Woman Wellness Group Visit Patient Testimonials
"I absolutely love these Group Visits. I now understand what I have to do and why I have to do it. I did not realize how important my diet was. After hearing the other ladies share about how they felt before getting rid of gluten, I was able to get rid of gluten, too. I feel so much better and I don't think I would have done this before the Group Visit.”
- Katie, age 48, nurse educator
"[Group Visits] are a great way to give us a lot of information and give us a chance to ask questions and see what other women think about the topics, too. I learned a lot more than I expected and love the support and helpful hints that the other ladies shared!"
- Pam, age 59, teacher
About Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, APNP, NCMP
Randi is the owner of Wise Woman Wellness LLC, an innovative wellness and hormone center in De Pere, WI. Mann is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner and certified NAMS menopause practitioner, a distinction less than 700 practitioners worldwide have achieved. She combines the best of conventional, functional and integrative medicine to help women with female, thyroid and adrenal hormone issues to live healthier, more abundant, joy-filled lives using a blend of compassion, cutting-edge science, practical guidance and humor. She is also founder of the Wise Woman Institute, launching March 2017, helping other practitioners set up their own practices and provide responsible hormone management. Please contact her at 920-339-5252 or via www.wisewomanwellness.com