Yes you can. This will give you an idea about how your practice, staff and patients feel about SMA consultations.
You could ask the patients to complete an evaluation after the session and monitor if there are any favourable outcomes from it. Did a peer group form?, Were there improvements in clinical markers? Did the patient’s level of self-management and health literacy improve?
Providing patient consultations through a SMA is not about giving up an hour of your consultation time, it is about seeing a group of patients who you would otherwise see in 6-10 individual 15-minute appointments. The SMA needs to be planned and scheduled into your day and the patient’s care plan
It does not replace the patient’s usual consultation but provides it in a different, and often more successful way.
Your knowledge of the patients attending the SMA is important and therefore you will know if they need a physical examination or not.
All SMAs have an adjoining room where physical examinations can occur. You can do the exam before, during or after the SMA depending on what best suits the patient and group dynamics. The facilitator’s role is to keep the group moving while you are out of the room examining a patient.
It is important to have a well-trained facilitator who can allow the clinician to have quality one-on-one dialogue with a patient, keep the SMA focused and manage patient interruptions. The facilitator can use the whiteboard to ‘flag’ questions or concerns bought up by other patients to for answering at the end of the SMA or in question time after the SMA has finished.
This same scenario could occur in an individual consultation when a patient googles a medication or talks to others and want you to prescribe it. As the clinician you explain the relevance for the prescription and why it is or is not appropriate, just as you otherwise would have.
An SMA is one type of consultation that you can have with your patient. If you still believe that they require a 1-1 face to face consultation then you can arrange this.
You still see your patients and have an individual consultation with them, however, by having a group of 6-12 patients all at once, you do not have to repeat the same messages 6-12 times and you can focus on patients who really need 1-1 consultations. Other clinicians have reported greater satisfaction with their clinical practice.