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Benefits of Shared
Medical Appointments

Clinicians can struggle to meet a patient’s more complex needs in a 15-minute appointment and these patients often feel rushed and leave without really understanding their condition and how to better self-manage. This traditional model is stressful and does not provide satisfaction for either party. The SMA approach provides opportunity to improve the patient experience and outcomes as well as improving service efficiency with best use of GP time. It is also an approach that does not impact negatively on the financial income of the practice or incur additional cost for the patient. Indeed, patients report getting better value for the co-payment due to the increased time for education, learning from others and the peer support.

The real benefit of SMAs for these patients is they learn from other patients and this can create the behavioural change that is needed for them to better manage their condition and learn self-management techniques resulting in outcomes that can be difficult to achieve in the traditional model.

With the numbers of people with long-term conditions increasing, people living longer and a GP workforce under pressure, the sector needs to offer alternative ways of engaging with patients. Equally, it is known that some patients prefer, and thrive, in the group environment with peer support to a 1:1 setting.

Planned Care


SMAs are timetabled for the patient, linked to their health plan goals and coordinated with tests, diagnostics and screening activities.


The practice can plan the routine activities and monitoring for this group of patients.

Each patient attending a SMA will receive a health plan.

Valuing time


The patient spends 60-90 minutes with their clinician and health team members at one time rather than attending multiple appointments. The SMA becomes a one-stop-shop for these patients.


The clinician interacts with more patients in less time. They spend 60 minutes with the group rather than 6-10 individual sessions where they may repeat the same clinical advice.

Better relationships and increased support


The patient develops a relationship with the whole care team thereby reducing dependency seeing their GP only.

The patient develops relationships with other members of the group and may contact them outside the SMA for additional support.


The practice and clinician gets to know the patients better by spending more planned time with them.

The GP feels better able to support the team approach to their patients.

The practice develops peer support groups to help support their patients with long-term conditions.

Efficiency and effectiveness


The one-stop-shop approach for the patients means they may have minimal contact with the practice between planned SMAs.

This reduces the number of attendances and subsequent co-payments for the patient.

Patients will increase the use of alternative methods to contact their health care team such as patient portals and apps.


Better use of the clinician and team member’s time.

Tests, diagnostics and screening activities are coordinated.

Targets and quality performance improves.

Replaces the number of annual appointments (e.g. DAR) with nursing staff if CNSs run the SMAs thereby freeing up practice nurses for other activities.

Developing health literate and self-managing patients reduces demand for face-to-face appointments.

Managing chronic disease


Patients with chronic diseases find the 15-minute appointment does not benefit them as they generally have a ‘list’ to discuss with their GP. Listening for 60 minutes with a clinician or specialist consulting over a range of patient issues means many concerns on their ‘list’ are resolved just by being there.


Time limited 15-minute appointments are frustrating for clinicians when trying to manage their patients with chronic diseases. SMAs allow the clinician to meet the needs of the group while providing one on one consultation over a 60-minute period.

SMA’s are a blend of medicine and education.

Increased health literacy and self-management


Listening and learning from the other consultations in the group helps patients to understand their own condition, medications and health plan better.


Learning how to communicate with a variety of patients to ensure they understand their condition and management improves the clinician’s health literacy.

Clinicians learn as much from these groups as patients do.

Better outcomes


Patients gain a greater understanding of their health needs and can be inspired to change by other members of the group. For example, COPD group members encouraging each other to quit smoking and get their flu vaccinations.


Using the members of the group to help facilitate behavioural change in other group members.

Involving the extended care team. For example, involving a social worker or dietician can help resolve issues that are often higher priority goals or barriers to the patient changing their behaviour.

Impact across the sector


When patients have increased health literacy, increased self-management, and a planned approach to their care they are less likely to require other acute services such as ED.


Planning patient care reduces the likelihood of the patient requiring acute services out of hours.

The practice may invite specialists to participate in a specific SMA, which ultimately could replace attendance at an outpatient clinic.

Increased satisfaction


Spending 60 minutes with a clinician and group listening, sharing and learning increases confidence and resilience.

Some patients enjoy a group session rather than 1-1.


It provides variety in the day, is less stressful than the 15-minute patient appointment churn, promotes a team approach and improves patient-clinician experience.