Healthcare providers experiences with shared medical appointments for heart failure
Shared medical appointments (SMAs) offer a means for providing knowledge and skills needed for chronic disease management to patients. However, SMAs require a time and attention investment from health care providers, who must understand the goals and potential benefits of SMAs from the perspective of patients and providers. To better understand how to gain provider engagement and inform future SMA implementation, qualitative inquiry of provider experience based on a knowledge-attitude-practice model was explored. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 health care providers leading SMAs for heart failure at three Veterans Administration Medical Centers. Rapid matrix analysis process techniques including team-based qualitative inquiry followed by stakeholder validation was employed. The interview guide followed a knowledge-attitude-practice model with a priori domains of knowledge of SMA structure and content (understanding of how SMAs were structured), SMA attitude/beliefs (general expectations about SMA use), attitudes regarding how leading SMAs affected patients, and providers. Data regarding the patient referral process (organizational processes for referring patients to SMAs) and suggested improvements were collected to further inform the development of SMA implementation best practices. Providers from all three sites reported similar knowledge, attitude and beliefs of SMAs. In general, providers reported that the multi-disciplinary structure of SMAs was an effective strategy towards improving clinical outcomes for patients. Emergent themes regarding experiences with SMAs included improved self-efficacy gained from real-time collaboration with providers from multiple disciplines, perceived decrease in patient re-hospitalizations, and promotion of self-management skills for patients with HF. Most providers reported that the SMA-setting facilitated patient learning by providing opportunities for the sharing of experiences and knowledge. This was associated with the perception of increased comradery and support among patients. Future research is needed to test suggested improvements and to develop best practices for training additional sites to implement HF SMA.