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NBC Presents All-Positive Story on 'Shared Medical Appointments'

It appears that NBC is trying to prepare us for the future of health care scarcity that ObamaCare is likely to bring. On Saturday’s Today, chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman presented a story on a new phenomenon that has popped up in some hospitals and clinics around the country: shared medical appointments. The idea is to put as many as 15 people with similar health problems in the same room with their doctor so they can all discuss their medical issues together. [Listen to MP3 audio here.]

Although liberals are supposed guardians of the right to privacy, Snyderman’s story had nothing negative to say about this phenomenon whatsoever. Right from the opening lines of the package, Snyderman painted a happy picture. As footage of a group of women talking and laughing appeared on screen, Snyderman reported:

 


"Laughter, camaraderie, flowers and even refreshments. This clearly isn’t a typical doctor's visit. In fact, it might be a model for the future of quality health care."

If the future of quality health care involves giving up one-on-one time with your doctor, perhaps the definition of “quality health care” has been lowered. But Snyderman couldn’t be bothered to raise questions about the quality of care in a shared medical visit. She played a quote from Dr. Marianne Sumego of the Cleveland Clinic, who was enthusiastic about the whole idea. Said Sumego:

"[The patients] take away more. It's bang for your buck. There’s value. You have extra time, extra information, extra resources, extra understanding."

Later in the package, Snyderman presented this supportive quote from an unidentified female patient:

"There's a lot of things that we shared today with our health that are very good and that gives me a very good feeling of a healthy community."

This was followed by another positive sound bite from another female patient:

"You hear other people's comments and other people's questions and you might even learn something you might not even thought of asking."

Nobody in the story had anything negative to say about these shared doctor visits. No one raised concerns about the lack of privacy that such an arrangement would bring. Perhaps some people don’t want anyone else to know the results of their medical tests or physical exam.

Snyderman confirmed that, yes, this arrangement has to do with our country’s forecasted doctor shortage:

"With the growing aging population and the expected surge in new patients insured under the Affordable Care Act, some experts believe our country will need more doctors to keep up with the increased demand for care."

So ObamaCare is partially to blame for this bizarre phenomenon. Maybe that’s why NBC presented this story in such a positive light. If we are all to accept ObamaCare, as they want us to do, then we must also accept a future where health care is scarce and doctors are forced to visit with many patients at a time. 

Below is a transcript of the segment:

ERICA HILL: Shifting gears now to look at your health. When you go to the doctor, chances are it's the two of you in the examining room. Maybe you have a family member or a nurse there at some point. But what if it was not just you, the patient, but a whole group of patients in there? As our chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman explains, it could be the office visit of the future.

WOMAN: Right now, you don't have anything to worry about.

NANCY SNYDERMAN: Laughter, camaraderie, flowers and even refreshments. This clearly isn’t a typical doctor's visit. In fact, it might be a model for the future of quality health care. It's a shared medical appointment, a unique way the Cleveland Clinic is providing routine patient checkups for as many as 15 people with similar health issues -- all at once.

DR. MARIANNE SUMEGO, Cleveland Clinic: They take away more. It's bang for your buck. There’s value. You have extra time, extra information, extra resources, extra understanding.

SNYDERMAN: While a typical checkup lasts 15 to 30 minutes, a patient can have a shared medical appointment for as long as two hours, all for the same cost as a traditional visit. Here’s how it works. After a one-on-one physical exam with the doctor, everyone signs a privacy agreement.

SUMEGO: The HDL over 55...

SNYDERMAN: Then the group meets to discuss test results.

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: But we really need to work on getting that lower.

SNYDERMAN: Ask questions. And share ideas about wellness, prevention, and nutrition.

SUMEGO: It's just peanuts and oil.

FEMALE PATIENT #1: There's a lot of things that we shared today with our health that are very good and that gives me a very good feeling of a healthy community.

FEMALE PATIENT #2: You hear other people's comments and other people's questions and you might even learn something you might not even thought of asking.

SNYDERMAN: The shared appointments program here is just one of many catching on across the country as hospitals struggle with more limited resources. With the growing aging population and the expected surge in new patients insured under the Affordable Care Act, some experts believe our country will need more doctors to keep up with the increased demand for care. By the year 2020, it's estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of more than 91,000 physicians.

SUMEGO: A very low HDL.

SNYDERMAN: And on this day, one doctor saw double the number she usually can, giving patients who started the day as strangers support toward the common goal of better health. For Today, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News, New York.


-- Paul Bremmer is a News Analysis Division intern.