Why shared appointments may benefit stone patients

April 8, 2013

Shared medical appointments for kidney stone patients are more beneficial than individual appointments, according to researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.

Shared medical appointments for kidney stone patients are more beneficial than individual appointments, according to researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.

In the first example of shared medical appointments at a dedicated kidney stone clinic, physicians were able to cut wait times, increase patient education, increase time spent on initial evaluations, and provide greater access to nutritionists, study authors reported at the National Kidney Foundation’s 2013 Spring Clinical Meetings Orlando, FL.

"With new health care laws coming into effect, physicians and insurers are looking at ways to increase access and education while simultaneously improving productivity," said lead researcher Allan Jhagroo, MD. "Our pilot program not only reduced wait times, but increased education and patient satisfaction."

As the only dedicated kidney stone clinic in the state, appointments at the University of Wisconsin would often be booked out 180 days in advance. Many patients who did make their appointments had a poor record of compliance with nutritional advice and medications.

"Previous studies have shown that the further removed a patient is from his or her kidney stone event, the less likely he is to do something about it, and the more likely he is to experience recurring kidney stones," Dr. Jhargoo said.

In the shared medical appointment program, groups of less than 10 patients were given 60- to 90-minute appointments. Each appointment included general kidney stone and kidney disease education, individual lab value assessments, and nutritional information based on each patient’s needs.

According to initial findings, appointment wait times were reduced to less than 90 days and the amount of patients receiving nutrition advice increased from 40% to 70%. Researchers also found that those in the shared medical appointments had, on average, better knowledge of the causes and treatments of kidney stones and were more satisfied (90% rated the SMA as excellent) than those who scheduled individual appointments.

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