Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs)

Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs)

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A normal doctor’s appointment consists of two hours mostly waiting to be seen by the doctor and around ten minutes of consultation with the doctor. Our society grows every day, by a little more, and it gets more difficult to make an appointment, it takes around 3 or 4 months after you scheduled an appointment to be seen by the doctor. There have been cases where, people need to go to the doctor for any kind of illness, they scheduled an appointment and from there to the time they get to see the doctor the illness is gone. These complications and others is the reason why doctors are starting to conduct shared medical appointments (SMAs), group appointments led by a doctor and an assistant where a group of people get evaluated at the same time. Although some people do not want to consult their personal problems in front of other people, SMAs offered an easier and quicker way to go to the doctor. This new program, (SMA) could change the way many people think about a medical appointment.
SMAs are also an argument between doctors, some may feel they are violating confidentiality agreements (Stempniak) and others may think SMAs are a great way to provide care to people. A consultant that has been preforming this kind of service said, “ ‘this is one of the few ways doctors can be more efficient and patients get more care, not less’ “(Dembner 2). These appointments benefit not only doctors but also the patients by giving them the opportunity to have a learning experienced from one another. Neuwirth, a chief medical officer said this program “‘becomes a big part of your life, and no one else really understands what you’re going through except someone else who is also going through it’ “(Stempniak). Listening to what other people are going through, encourages them to be better and, what to avoid in getting better.

Investigations have been done to prove how effective shared medical appointments are and what the advantages of conducting them. Among those who try SMAs, about 85% don’t go back to individual exams (Park 1). One of the major concerns about this type of appointment is the patient’s acceptance of it (Sikon and Broson). First time patients might feel intimidated by the amount of people in the room or maybe they just do not feel comfortable sharing their personal issues with strangers. Most of these insecurities go away after they start interacting with other people and helping each other with the experience they had on.

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In The Cleveland Clinic, 100% of the patients said they had enough time with their provider, did not feel rushed, and they were satisfied with the quality of care and benefits from being with other patients (Stempniak).
The number of people waiting to be seen by the doctor has changed drastically over the years. In 2002, the VA Medical Center In Pines, Fla., introduced group appointments to combat the backlog of 17,000 patients waiting to be inducted into the primary-care system. Today, that waiting list went down to about 100 patients (Bower 2). Although SMAs benefits us in so many ways, this is not for everybody. Shared visits are not appropriate for those that are acutely ill, the demented, the hearing impaired and for one-time consultations (Bower 2). In contrast, a person that only attend once to one of these shared visits do not gain the same experienced as compared to those that attend regularly. Therefore, one-time patients may think differently about SMAs effectiveness.
Doctors are primarily offering groups visits for patients with common chronic illness such as diabetes, arthritis, fertility problems, and lung disease (Dembner 1). SMAs are also offered to seniors that because of their age do not have access to the Internet, and sometimes are not aware of what is going on. Group appointments will provide them with lots of information on how to treat their illness. Additionally, patients who agree to the group format, typically get quicker access and more time with the doctor, and a chance to learn how others are managing their illness (Dembner 1).

With a better understanding of what shared medical appointments consist of, and what the advantages are of joining them. People may start thinking of a new way of going to the doctor. Not only you go to the doctor for checkups, but you are also given the opportunity to interact and learn from other patients. Privacy is not a concern in these kinds of appointments, doctors and patients are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement and patients have the privilege to see the doctor one-one anytime during the group sessions. SMAs are a quicker, cheaper, and beneficial way of going to the doctors and are guaranteed to stay around for a long time.

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