Drop-In Group Medical Appointment or DIGMAs
DIGMAs are on the growing edge of delivering high quality, innovative and cost saving medical care to a growing number of patients from coast-to-coast. We have been conducting asthma DIGMAs for many years.
Click here to donwload (PDF) and read our feature article about DIGMA's from Good Health Magazine (Fall 2011)
What is a DIGMA?
Our weekly DIGMAs target those patients with chronic asthma, and they are group medical appointments that typically last for 90 minutes and involve up to 10 patients. Family members are also encouraged to attend.
Asthma Group Support
Our Allergists and Immunologists address medical concerns, a behaviorist facilitates group discussion and psychosocial issues, and asthma educator addresses specific questions regarding monitoring and equipment. This allows for patient education and self-management instruction through group interaction, without the limitation of a formal presentation.
Better Asthma Education for Patients
Our program, which we renamed Doctor Interactive Group Medical Appointments (DIGMA) was designed to allow physicians to evaluate our asthmatic patients on a weekly basis and provide disease education. In addition, these group visits allow the patients to interact with one another in a mutually supportive environment.
These group medical appointments came about because of two similar frustrations:
- Patients were frustrated that they didn't get to spend enough time with their physicians and
- Doctors were frustrated that they did not get enough time to spend with their patients. From these frustrations, Group Medical Appointments evolved.
Benefits of DIGMAs
In many ways, a DIGMA appointment is similar to a regular doctor's appointment; lab results are reviewed prescriptions are written, change or refilled and questions are answered. The ways in which DIGMAs are different are important:
- Patients and their doctors are together for an hour or more.
- Patients benefit from being able to hear how others with a similar condition are treated, whether they have similar side effects to medicines and show improved compliance with treatment.
- Doctors may be reminded of issues by one patient that applies to other patients in the group.
- Having a chronic illness can be very isolating; the group format virtually eliminates the isolation that so often accompanies illness.
- Therapists, trained in facilitating groups are there to keep things on track and moving along. On occasion a patient's behavioral pattern is identified that influences their condition that is treated in the DIGMA. In these cases, the therapist may briefly intervene to address the problem behavior