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Why Mock Shared Medical Appointments are Critical for Success

So what exactly IS a mock shared medical appointment?

Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  Just like a mock debate, a mock SMA is an imitation of a real SMA.   It has simulated patients, simulated medical records, and simulated scenarios.  However, the workflow, healthcare team, location, and EMR system are all quite real.  And even the “simulated” stuff is based on reality.  The point of a mock SMA is to do everything that you would do in a real SMA so that when the real thing happens, you are ready.

Why are mock SMAs important?

Mock SMAs help you flush out all of the issues that you might encounter during a real SMA.  They allow you to implement the workflow that you’ve been developing to find out where the holes are.  Because they are just a practice run, mock SMAs enable you to fill those holes before any of your patients encounter them.  For example, you might discover:

  • The room is not setup ideally for the group
  • The EMR templates are not robust enough for simple documentation
  • The EMR workflow needs to be adjusted so that documentation can be completed in the room
  • You don’t have the right equipment
  • Your timing is off and you need to work on moving faster/slower to meet the 90 minute timeframe

Mock SMAs offer a unique opportunity for the different team members to practice their different roles.  This is especially important for the facilitator and physician.

The Facilitator (Behaviorist, Nurse or Health Coach)

Mock SMAs are also really helpful for your facilitator.  It gives them the opportunity to practice:

  • Facilitating the group when the physician is speaking with the documenter
  • Dealing with quiet, domineering or difficult patients
  • Eliciting the key issues that the patients want to talk about in the group
  • Introducing the patients to SMAs and explaining what they are and how they work

It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions of the team when they encounter situations in the workflow that they are not sure how to manage.

The Physician

Mock SMAs are incredibly helpful to a physician, who will be practicing in a model very different from the one-on-one appointment.  Mock SMAs allow the physician to, like the behaviorist, ask questions of the team when they encounter situations in the workflow that may introduce challenges.  Mock SMAs also allow the physician to:

  • Practice dictating to the documenter during the appointment
  • Work on their timing for each individual patient encounter
  • Practice educating the group while talking with an individual patient

Preparation and planning for a shared medical appointment is critical, but so is practicing what has been learned.  It is this practice that allows you to find issues before they become major problems. 

As Aristotle said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”