Background: Shared medical appointments (SMAs) are a new model in patient care. This model was designed to improve patients' access to their physicians and improve physician productivity. The aim of this study was to evaluate patient satisfaction with SMAs after bariatric surgery.
Methods: The medical records of consecutive patients who were followed up after bariatric surgery were retrospectively reviewed. The type of bariatric surgery and type of medical appointment were recorded, as were the patients' replies to the evaluation questionnaires in the SMA group.
Results: From April 2004 to December 2004, 277 individual visits were conducted; 242 visits for patients who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and 35 visits for patients who underwent laparoscopic gastric banding. Thirty-three SMAs occurred during that period--28 SMAs for patients who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and 5 SMAs for patients who underwent laparoscopic gastric banding. Of the patients who initially participated in an SMA, 91% scheduled a subsequent SMA, and 96% indicated that they would recommend SMAs to others. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1, poor and 5, excellent), patients graded their overall experience with SMAs as 4.5. Other parameters in the questionnaire all ranked between 4 and 5. The average waiting period for an appointment before the implementation of SMAs was 57.7 days (range 50-65) for new patients and 50 days (range 20-72) for former patients. After the implementation of SMAs, the average waiting period was 25 days (range 8-42) for new patients (P = 0.0046) and 20.3 days (range 0-42) for former patients (P = 0.06).
Conclusion: The SMA offers the patient prompt access to medical care, enables high-volume follow-up, with high satisfaction rates.