At UC San Diego Health System, we are always looking for innovative ways to help you improve your health. That’s why some of our doctors are now offering shared medical appointments (SMAs). During these 90-minute sessions, you and a small group of patients will meet with your doctor and a multidisciplinary health care team. You will accomplish all the same goals as an individual appointment with the added benefit of receiving more discussion with your doctor and support from others.
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Getting a glimpse of how shared medical appointments work
The medical specialists currently offering shared medical appointments are:
More time with your doctor.
SMAs are 90 minutes long compared to the typical 15-minute individual office visit and are held in a comfortable setting. Every part of your SMA is planned and scheduled to give you the greatest amount of time with your doctor, doing what needs to be done to give you excellent care.
SMAs start and end on time, so you get to skip the waiting room.
Get what you came for.
SMAs provide all the same services as individual appointments. Exams, ordering and reviewing tests, care plans, medications and discussion are all part of your SMA.
Longer appointments give you the opportunity for more discussion and to hear answers to important questions asked by other patients.
Get more support.
SMAs aren’t a seminar, class, or support group, but you’ll benefit from receiving your care in an environment surrounded by others faced with similar health concerns. Patients tend to leave the visit with a lot more information, answers to questions they might not have thought to ask, and sometimes, new friends.
SMAs are staffed by health care providers including doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and medical assistants. In addition, a behaviorist is often present to manage the meeting and engage patients in the group experience. The behaviorist might also address any emotional concerns related to a patient’s health and well-being.
What about my privacy?
All participants in SMAs must sign a privacy and confidentiality agreement. At first, many patients feel shy going to these appointments, but they quickly begin to enjoy the social interaction and are willing to share information that is helpful to others. Private discussions and exams are still available during these appointments, if needed.
Does insurance cover SMAs?
Yes. SMAs are billed the same as regular office visits with no additional charge for extra time. Your usual co-pay will be collected.
Can I get prescriptions written in a SMA?
Yes, anything you would normally do in an individual office visit can be done in a shared medical appointment.
Can I bring a friend or family member with me?
Yes, but guests must sign the same confidentiality statement as patients.
Once I try a SMA, do I have to continue using SMAs for doctor’s appointments?
No. SMAs are intended to provide you with an opportunity to benefit from more time with your doctor. It is simply an additional health care option that is now available. Most patients who try a SMA want to return, but you are under no obligation to do so. If you find you prefer individual appointments, you may switch back to them at any time.
What if I can’t stay for the entire appointment?
If you need to leave early, tell your doctor at the beginning of the SMA. Your health care team will try to address your concerns early in the session.