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Orlando, FL (April 3, 2013) – Shared medical appointments for kidney stone patients are more beneficial than individual appointments, according to new research presented at the National Kidney Foundation's 2013 Spring Clinical Meetings held here today.
In the first example of shared medical appointments (SMA) at a dedicated kidney stone clinic, doctors were able to cut wait times, increase patient education, increase time spent on initial evaluations and provide greater access to nutritionists.
"With new healthcare 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, with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "Our pilot program not only reduced wait times, but increased education and patient satisfaction."
Dr. Jhagroo and his team began experimenting with SMAs out of necessity. As the only dedicated kidney stone clinic in Wisconsin, appointments 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," said Dr. Jhargoo.
In the SMA program, groups of less than ten 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 SMA groups 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.
"As the incidence of chronic kidney disease increases, there will be greater demand for access to nephrologists and other medical specialists," said Dr. Kerry Willis, Senior Vice President for Scientific Activities with the National Kidney Foundation. "This pilot project shows there are ways to streamline specialized care while improving access and education. The findings show a clear benefit to kidney stone patients, and the program could serve as a model for managing other types of kidney patients as well."
More Information on Kidney Stones from the National Kidney Foundation:
The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit www.kidney.org.