A new study suggests that for women considering breast-reduction surgery, a shared medical appointment (SMA) offers both a more efficient clinical visit and excellent patient satisfaction.
The SMA approach combines traditional patient evaluation with what the study authors call “a community learning environment.” The study, headed by plastic surgeon Aviram M. Giladi, M.D., of the University of Michigan, concludes that SMAs offer benefits that include group learning, peer support and “a sense of solidarity and commonality” among women learning about breast-reduction surgery.
For their study, the researchers offered shared medical appointments to women about to undergo initial evaluation for symptomatic macromastia. Patients were asked to choose between an SMA and a traditional one-on-one appointment with the plastic surgeon.
In addition to an individual, private examination and discussion of surgical options, the SMA approach included a group information and education session with the surgeon. An average of eight patients — each accompanied by a female guest — participated in the group session.
The researchers compared patient satisfaction rates for the 26 women who chose an SMA with those of the 26 who chose traditional appointments. Results in both groups demonstrated very high patient satisfaction rates, and more than 75 percent of patients who chose an SMA said they would likely make the same choice in the future.
The SMA approach dramatically increased provider efficiency and clinic workflow. Combining some of the common informational aspects of the traditional visit into the SMA, for example, resulted in an increase in the number of patients seen per hour and the amount of time each patient was able to interact with the surgeon.
“The shared medical appointment model allows the patient to learn about their condition and surgical treatment options alongside others suffering from similar problems, providing a unique and more in-depth learning experience, as well as peer support,” Dr. Giladi tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. “To see that our study participants were very satisfied with the pre-operative SMA, and would consider another SMA in the future, illustrates the value of these benefits for patients.
“For the surgeons, not only were we able to provide patients with more contact time and a unique educational experience that they deserve and expect, but workflow and efficiency were improved as well. If properly organized and executed, the pre-operative SMA can provide substantial benefits to macromastia patients and their plastic surgeons.”
The study appears in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.