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What is a shared medical appointment?

A shared medical appointment (SMA) is a medical appointment where multiple patients are seen in a supportive group setting. The appointments are 90 minutes long and conducted by a full healthcare team. Read more about SMAs »

What types of patients attend SMAs?

Shared medical appointments can be for follow-up or routine care. SMAs work well for many different types of patients. Patients that may not be a good fit for SMAs are:

  • Patients that speak a different language than the rest of the group
  • Patients with serious infectious illnesses
  • Patients with severe hearing impairments
  • Patients with dementia

How is a shared medical appointment different than a health class or group therapy?

A shared medical appointment is a not a seminar, health class, support group, or therapy. A SMA is a regular office visit with the doctor. Patients get an exam, labs, and prescriptions. SMAs do have an educational component, but this is secondary to the office visit itself.

Does a SMA replace individual visits?

Once a patient attends a shared medical appointment, they are not required to give up their one-on-one appointments. SMAs are another way for a doctor to offer care, but do not replace traditional means of care.

Can you bill insurances for SMAs?

A shared medical appointment is billed in the same way as a regular office visit. There is no extra charge to the patient, who will pay their normal co-pay. Cambria Health can help your billers code appropriately for the services so that they are paid correctly.

Are there confidentiality issues with a SMA?

Every person who attends a shared medical appointment must sign a confidentiality agreement. When addressed appropriately, confidentiality is not an issue.

Is everything done in front of the group?

It is important to do as much in front of the group as possible. This way, all of the patients benefit from the interaction. However, sometimes it is necessary or preferred to do part of the exam in private. This is also okay.

How many patients in the group?

A shared medical appointment usually has 8-14 people in the group.

What is the benefit of SMAs over one-on-one appointments?

There are many benefits of shared medical appointments for the patient, provider, and organization. The benefits for patients are more time with their doctor, improved access, no waiting room time, greater patient education, closer follow-up care, and the help and support of other patients. Patients leave with more information, answers to questions they never thought to ask, and sometimes, new friends. For physicians, the Shared Medical Appointment helps improve backlogged schedules, allows more time for patient education, is relaxed and enjoyable, and increases access to care by providing more appointment slots within a given period of time. Read more about the benefit of SMAs »

What is Cambria's role in SMA implementation?

Shared medical appointments can be hard to implement if you have not done it before. Cambria Health can guide you through the many steps so that the organization attains success.

How do I know if a SMA is right for us?

Shared medical appointments may be good for you if you want to:

  • Increase patient access
  • Improve efficiency and productivity
  • Have engaged and enthusiastic physicians and patients

Cambria can help you determine which departments are the best fits for your first SMAs. You can start figuring out if a SMA will be of value to you by using our value calculator.  Try out the calculator »

What other organizations use SMAs?

There are many other organizations that conduct shared medical appointments, including:

  • Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Kaiser
  • Veteran’s Health Administration
  • Dartmouth Hitchcock
  • University of Virginia

What resources do we need to implement SMAs?

Cambria can provide you with a list of resources that are helpful when conducting SMAs. The essentials include:

  • Healthcare team
  • Room large enough for 8-14 people with normal office visit materials
  • Patient packets
  • Form
  • Computer

How does a SMA impact patient satisfaction and experience?

Research shows that SMAs improve patient satisfaction ratings. Patients experience a support from the healthcare team and fellow patients. They also get more questions answered, have more time with their providers, and have better outcomes. Read more about patient benefits »

How does a SMA impact provider/staff satisfaction?

Research shows that SMAs improve provider satisfaction ratings. SMAs offer physicians a more relaxed visit environment, more time with their patients, and more free time during their work week. Read more about SMA benefits for providers »