Abstract

Background: Shared medical appointments (SMAs) are group medical visits combining medical care and patient education. We examined the impact of a wellness-focused pilot SMA in a large multiple sclerosis (MS) clinic.

Methods: We reviewed data on all patients who participated in the SMA from January 2016 through June 2019. Data were collected 12 months pre/post SMA; included demographics, body mass index, patient-reported outcomes, and health care utilization; and were compared using Wilcoxon rank sum test.

Results: Fifty adult patients (mean ± SD age, 50.1 ± 12.3 years) attended at least one MS wellness SMA. Most patients had private insurance (50%), and 26% had Medicaid coverage. The most common comorbidity was depression/anxiety (44%). Pre/post SMA outcomes showed a small but significant reduction in body mass index (30.2 ± 7.3 vs 28.8 ± 7.1, P = .03), and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores decreased from 7.3 ± 5.5 to 5.1 ± 5.6 (P = .001). The number of emergency department visits decreased from 13 to two (P = .0005), whereas follow-up visits increased with an attendees’ primary care provider from 19 to 41 (P < .001), physical therapist from 15 to 27 (P = .004), and psychologist from six to 19 (P = .003).

Conclusions: This pilot MS wellness SMA was associated with improved physical and psychological outcomes. There was increased, lower-cost health care utilization with reduced acute, high-cost health care utilization, suggesting that SMAs may be a cost-effective and beneficial method in caring for patients with MS.

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