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Journal Article

Evidence from the first shared medical appointments (SMAs) randomised controlled trial in India: SMAs increase the satisfaction, knowledge, and medication compliance of patients with glaucoma

PLOS Global Public Health 3 (7): e0001648
Nazlı Sönmez, Kavitha Srinivasan, Rengaraj Venkatesh, Ryan W. Buell, Kamalini Ramdas (2023)
Diversity and inclusion; Health and environment; Management sciences, decision sciences and quantitative methods; Product and operations management
shared medical appointments, patient compliance, patient satisfaction, innovation in healthcare delivery, global public health, healthcare operations
In Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs), patients with similar conditions meet the physician together and each receives one-on-one attention. SMAs can improve outcomes and physician productivity. Yet privacy concerns have stymied adoption. In physician-deprived nations, patients’ utility from improved access may outweigh their disutility from loss of privacy. Ours is to our knowledge the first SMA trial for any disease, in India, where doctors are scarce. In a 1,000-patient, single-site, randomized controlled trial at Aravind Eye Hospital, Pondicherry, we compared SMAs and one-on-one appointments, over four successive visits, for patients with glaucoma. We examined patients’ satisfaction, knowledge, intention-to-follow-up, follow-up rates, and medication compliance rates (primary outcomes) using intention-to-treat analysis. Of 1,034 patients invited between July 12, 2016 – July 19, 2018, 1,000 (96.7%) consented to participate, and were randomly assigned to either SMAs (NSMA=500) or one-on-one appointments (N1-1=500). Patients who received SMAs showed higher satisfaction (MeanSMA=4.955 (SD 0.241), Mean1-1=4.920 (SD 0.326); difference in means 0.035; 95% CI, 0.017-0.054, p=0.0002) and knowledge (MeanSMA=3.416 (SD 1.340), Mean1-1=3.267 (SD 1.492); difference in means 0.149; 95% CI, 0.057–0.241, p=0.002) than patients who received one-on-one appointments. Across conditions, there was no difference in patients’ intention-to-follow-up (MeanSMA=4.989 (SD 0.118), Mean1-1=4.986 (SD 0.149); difference in means 0.003; 95% CI, -0.006–0.012, p=0.481) and actual follow-up rates (MeanSMA=87.5% (SD 0.372), Mean1-1=88.7% (SD 0.338); difference in means -0.012; 95% CI, -0.039–0.015, p=0.377). Patients who received SMAs exhibited higher medication compliance rates (MeanSMA=97.0% (SD 0.180), Mean1-1=94.9% (SD 0.238); difference in means 0.020; 95% CI, 0.004–0.036, p=0.013). SMAs improved satisfaction, learning, and medication compliance, without compromising follow-up rates or measured clinical outcomes. Peer interruptions were negatively correlated with patient satisfaction in early-trial SMAs and positively correlated with patient satisfaction in later-trial SMAs. The trial was registered with Clinical Trials Registry of India with reference no. REF/2016/11/012659 and registration no. CTRI/2018/02/011998.
©2023 Sönmez et al.
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