Initial evaluation at a shared medical appointment (SMA) provides excellent patient satisfaction and a more efficient clinic visit for women considering breast-reduction surgery, according to a study in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.
The study, led by the University of Michigan’s Aviram M. Giladi, MD, MS, and colleagues, offered SMAs to women with symptomatic macromastia. Patients were given the choice between an SMA and a traditional, one-on-one appointment with the plastic surgeon. The concept of a group medical visit was originally introduced for routine physical exams and to improve long-term management of chronic diseases. SMAs have since expanded to a wide range of specialties and patient groups.
In the new study, the SMA approach included a group information and education session with the surgeon along with a private examination and discussion of surgical options. On average, eight patients (each accompanied by one female guest) participated in the group session.
More than 75% of patients who participated in the shared appointments said they would likely choose the same option in the future.
The study compared patient satisfaction rates for 26 women who chose an SMA with 26 who chose traditional appointments. There were very high patient satisfaction rates—89% overall and 92% with regard to the thoroughness of care—in both the shared and individual appointment groups. More than 75% of patients who participated in the shared appointments said they would likely choose the same option in the future.
In addition, the SMA approach “more than doubled provider efficiency and clinic workflow,” reported Giladi and colleagues. By combining some of the common informational aspects of the usual individual visit in the group part of the visit, “the number of patients seen per hour substantially increased with the SMA model, as did each patient’s total interaction with the surgeon.” Including the educational session, SMA patients enjoyed four times longer total contact time with the surgeon. “We are able to provide this enhanced patient experience, built on camaraderie, peer support, and group education, while improving provider and clinic efficiency,” the researchers concluded.