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Time to Heal: Group Appointments Offer Greater Doctor Access

Aired October 6, 2000 - 2:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Don't blink. The rules of modern medicine mean you might get five minutes with your doctor, if you're lucky. Some patients are finding a way to buy more time with their doctor, timesharing if you will.

Here's CNN's Rusty Dornin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. HERB BROSBE: I'm coming to you, that is pretty impressive, don't you think?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Dr. Herb Brosbe takes a pulse these days, it's an old-fashioned house call. Brosbe quit his physicians group after feeling pressure, he says, to increase efficiency, which he claims cost his patients time and quality care.

BROSBE: There's a difference between treating a patient and caring for a patient.

DORNIN: He's not alone. As doctors struggle with the problem of money versus time spent with patients, some are prescribing alternatives. Stuart Berman (ph) made his appointment at the last minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are pretty equal and then the wrist up.

DORNIN: But he'll get 90 minutes with his doctor today, along with 10 other patients with similar problems; a group appointment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though there was a bunch of other people around, I was having the time to describe what happened, what's going on with my particular illness.

DORNIN: Patients have their vitals taken individually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What problem did you want to talk to Dr. Lu (ph) to discuss today?

DORNIN: And can schedule a one-on-one with the doctor after the group.

Group appointment advocate and psychologist Ed Noffsinger says it gets doctors and patients off the clock. ED NOFFSINGER, GROUP APPOINTMENT CREATOR: It's almost unheard of in this day and age to be able sit down with your doctor for 90 minutes, and granted there is other people in the room, and granted there are some tradeoffs in terms of confidentiality, because other people are there, but it really brings back that old-time relationship.

DORNIN: Patients say it's not just the relationship with their doctor. After all, misery sometimes likes a little company.

DAVID FALTISECK, PATIENT: It always helps me when I see someone who's worse off than I am.

GLORIA RHODES, PATIENT: It's good to have your private time with your physician, but you do learn other things from other people's experiences.

DORNIN (on camera): Experiences never spoken of in a crowded waiting room, and one way some are finding to beat the rush of the modern medical appointment.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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