share this!

SMA Benefits

There are many benefits of shared medical appointments for the patient, provider, and organization.

For The Patient

Research has shown that shared medical appointments offer many benefits to patients. SMAs have been shown to improve:

  • Quality of life
  • Health outcomes
  • Patient confidence when speaking to doctors (self-efficacy in patient-provider communication)
  • Chronic condition self-management skills

Shared medical appointments offer patients more access to their provider. Instead of less than 15 minutes with one doctor, patients get 90 minutes with a whole healthcare team. This extra time allows patients to:

  • Remember and ask questions
  • Hear answers to questions that they may be afraid to ask
  • Learn more about their condition
  • Talk about barriers to better health
  • Learn what works for other patients dealing with similar issues
  • Set goals
  • Learn about community resources

All of this fosters social support amongst the patients. Patients learn not only from the doctor, but also from the SMA team and other patients. Shared medical appointments create a setting where patients naturally become role models for each other. This method of learning reinforces good behaviors for everyone in the group. It also improves patient confidence and motivation to take more control over one’s own health. Overall, SMAs embody a more holistic self-management approach to patient care.

The unique educational component of shared medical appointments offers the opportunity to improve the health literacy patients. Patients in a group setting learn about a greater breadth and depth of topics than in a one-on-one appointment.

SMA patients are also more likely to have the skillset to change bad health behaviors. We all know how challenging it can be to successfully change behavior or reach health goals. SMAs increase self-efficacy (self-confidence), which positively correlates with effective goal setting and positive behavior change.

Ultimately, patients leave with more information, answers to questions they never thought to ask, and sometimes, new friends.

Back to top

For The Provider

There are several reasons that SMAs work well for physicians. Providers:

  • See more patients in a given timeframe
  • Enhance revenue (panel size, encounters, reduction in no-shows)
  • Increase patient access and improve backlogged schedules
  • Increase provider productivity and efficiency
  • Give patients more attention
  • Answer common questions once
  • Focus on more aspects of the patient and condition
  • Have team support
  • Allow more time for patient education
  • Improve their patients’ adherence
  • Enjoy the SMAs and often report higher job satisfaction

The increased patient access allows physicians to more easily monitor a patient’s health. In a one-on-one appointment, patients and providers usually have less than 15 minutes, often resulting in frustration. This limited time forces many patients to access additional health care services, including urgent and emergency care. With 90 minute shared medical appointments, the healthcare team can give patients more attention. The doctor and the team have the time to learn more about their patients. They also have more time to accomplish all of the tasks that arise during an appointment. This, in turn, improves patients’ trust in their doctor and decreases excess utilization of services.

SMAs are a cost effective, efficient way for providers to educate a group of patients with a common medical condition or concern. Often, doctors find themselves repeating the same information to different patients. SMAs allow for these common questions to get answered all at once, saving time for the physician to focus on other aspects of the condition and increasing productivity and efficiency.

Overall, physicians practicing SMAs report higher job satisfaction. They enjoy the time with the patients, the extra time freed up during the week, and the improved efficiency and productivity of the practice.

Back to top

For The Organization

SMAs benefit the organizations that execute them by:

  • Improving provider productivity and satisfaction
  • Increasing patient access
  • Improving efficiency
  • Enhancing quality and clinical outcomes
  • Controlling costs
  • Enhancing job performance
  • Improving provider satisfaction
  • Standardizing team protocol for screening and preventative measures
  • Enhancing health education
  • Addressing “Mind” as well as “Body” needs
  • Offering a more effective ambulatory medicine teaching forum
  • Leveraging existing resources
  • Increasing productivity (encounters)
  • Decreasing unnecessary costs
  • Decreasing emergency room and urgent care visits

SMAs also can assist with the ever-increasing needs of an aging patient population – a population that will become more costly as they age.

Back to top

Learn More

Read more about shared medical appointments here.