Shared Medical Appointments

A quantum leap forward in chronic disease management and treatment.

Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs), also called ‘Group Visits’, are “A series of consecutive individual medical consultations in a supportive group setting where all can listen, interact, and learn.” As such, an SMA is both an individual consultation and a group peer support session.

Traditionally, medical consultations have been carried out in a 1:1 situation; an ‘expert’ (doctor) consulting with one patient. This has served us well, and still does with injuries and infectious diseases. But the rise in chronic and lifestyle-related diseases has dramatically altered the clinical landscape.

No longer is a short consultation with a doctor sufficient or necessarily appropriate to manage what can amount to complex, lifetime, metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory and other disorders.  And in the same way that the patient’s best interests may not be well served by the traditional 1:1 consultation, medical practices are struggling under the weight of increasing numbers of their patient cohorts with chronic disease.

In the past, attempts have been made to address this by the development of education sessions (eg: diabetes education), usually involving one health ‘expert’ and a patient group of say, 10-20 people. But the group education lacks medical input and the 1:1 consultation lacks an education component. Hence another model was still needed.

The current SMA Protocol was adapted from overseas models some years ago now by Profs Garry Egger and John Stevens, and has since developed into an efficient and effective form of patient consultation and management with a robust protocol, a number of local research studies and importantly, lots of real world application.

A Shared Medical Appointment in action

The minimal ‘team’ for an SMA is a doctor and a trained facilitator. In an SMA, the doctor carries out his/her doctoring, but with other patients watching.  The facilitator introduces the group, writes records and questions on a board, assists the doctor with information, controls the group dynamics, and in some cases writes the medical records.

Other personnel can include a documenter (to keep medical records), a Practice Nurse (for carrying out pre-group observations) or other allied health professionals according to the group needs and financial availability.

Watch a free introductory webinar
Read more about the SMA workshop and register

More information

ASLM has been involved in developing the SMA concept in Australasia for some years, including conducting pilot trials and advocating for the concept to be recognised within the current MBS reimbursement system.  We encourage medical practitioners and potential facilitators (usually allied health professionals) to register with us to be kept informed of developments.


ASLM has also partnered with the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) to conduct further research into the cost effectiveness and outcomes of SMAs. MCHRI aims to research, implement and translate clinical, health services and public health knowledge, underpinned by cross sector end-user engagement, to improve health outcomes.  We’re delighted to be part of this initiative and held our first joint workshop on 13 May 2017 at Monash Medical Centre.

Become an SMA Practitioner or Facilitator

SMAs can change the way you manage chronic disease, make clinical appointments more enjoyable for you and your patients, and improve cost efficiencies in your practice.

Shared Medical Appointments

  • Increase clinical cost-efficiency
  • Use peer support for better outcomes
  • Mean not repeating yourself ad nauseum
  • Improve clinical teamwork
  • Increase patient/provider satisfaction
  • Make clinical practice more fun!

In order to optionally become an ASLM Certified SMA Facilitator, you are required to complete three steps:

  1. Participate in a one day workshop, whether face-to-face, online or webinar series
  2. Complete a short assessment to assess your understanding of the protocol
  3. Submit a report of your first SMA for peer review and feedback

ASLM provides an ongoing support structure on an annual basis for GPs and Facilitators trained in the ASLM SMA protocol.  This includes resources, peer review and support, and advice and assistance as required.

Enrol in a workshop now

Want to hold SMA facilitator training in your practice or Primary Health Network?  Let us know if you can get a group together and nominate a date.  We’ll organise the rest.  Or see if we have a workshop coming up you can attend.  If not, there’s the online version of the workshop which is always available.

And make sure you’ve signed up to the newsletter to be kept informed of future developments (in the footer below).

Watch a free introductory webinar
Read more about the SMA workshop and register