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.” A SMA is both an individual consultation and a group education 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 diseases with the modernisation of society has dramatically altered the clinical landscape.

No longer is a pharmaceutical prescription, a doctor’s advice, or surgery, sufficient or necessarily appropriate to manage what can amount to complex, lifetime, metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory or carcinogenic disorders.

Shared Medical Appointments in Australia

In the past, attempts have been made to address this by the development of education sessions (e.g.: 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 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.

Drop in Group Medical Appointments

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.

Another SMA model is the ‘Drop in Group Medical Appointment’ (DIGMA), also well researched and tested overseas.  See the video for more information.

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 Medicare reimbursement system.  We encourage medical practitioners and potential facilitators (usually allied health professionals) to register with us to be kept informed of developments.

Research and articles



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 become an ASLM Registered SMA Practitioner or Facilitator, you are required to complete three steps:

  1. One day face-to face training in the ASLM SMA protocol
  2. Assessment of your understanding of the protocol
  3. A brief report of your first SMA for peer review

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.

Practitioner/Facilitator training schedule

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, or join us on one of the dates below:

More dates and locations will be added as they become available.  Make sure you’ve signed up to the newsletter to be kept informed (in the footer below).