A Shared Medical Appointment (SMA) allows select groups of patients to receive individual consultations in a group setting. SMAs can provide a variety of benefits to both your patients and your practice.
patients in a standard SMA group
A SMA group is generally 6 to 10 patients. Each patient in the group receives an individual consultation with a clinician in a group setting while benefitting from the group interaction and discussion. A SMA can last up to 90 minutes – 60 minutes clinical consultation and 30 minutes for follow-up.
Patients have their tests, screening and diagnostics completed prior to the SMA. Once the group is together, each patient has an individual consultation with the clinician in the group setting. A breakout room is provided for a physical examination and can be used either during or post the SMA. Members of the extended health team are available for follow-up activities such as immunisations, additional tests, physical procedures and 1-1 advice.
Taupo Medical Centre have been New Zealand’s early adopters with successful outcomes for people with long-term conditions.
minutes of clinical consultation time in a shared medical appointment
You may have a group of people with diabetes who are frequent attendees at ED due to poor self-management and access barriers, frequent attenders at ED for poorly managed COPD, a group of families with a child in the oncology service, patients at risk of CVD and who need to lose weight. The range of SMA groups are endless, but as a practice you know your patients, your team’s expertise and potentially who you can invite in as a specialist clinician to support your SMA programmes.
Making them happen in the practice should be structured and standardised but the SMA itself can remain flexible to ensure the group’s needs are met.
Benefits could be; increased access to the practice, improved education and health literacy, peer support, behavioural change, medication adherence or engagement. Over time as SMAs become more commonplace, they become an option for patients just like phone, face-to-face and video consultations.