Essential to the implementation of a patient-centered medical home is use of evidence-based interventions by a well-coordinated team of providers in a cost-effective manner. Group Medical Visits (GMVs), designed to increase self-management behaviors in patients with chronic illness, have shown inconsistently to be efficacious. Despite the modest results reported thus far in the literature, GMVs have been promoted by the American Academy of Family Physicians as an important component in the patient-centered medical home. This paper describes the challenges of translating GMVs into clinical practice when research support is not available. A review of 5+ years experience in conducting GMVs in clinical practice, including the numerous barriers, is presented through a "three-world view" model utilized by collaborative care leaders. This review is followed by a comparison of variables extracted from patients' electronic health records of those who participated in GMVs to similar patients who did not participate in GMVs. Results suggest that outcomes often reported in efficacy trials are not easily obtained in real clinical practice. Overcoming the operational and financial obstacles to offering GMVs is necessary before they can be promoted as essential elements in a patient-centered medical home.
Keywords: Chronic disease; Group medical visits; Patient self-management; Patient-centered medical home.