Shared decision-making makes better informed patients, and better informed patients use less health care.
…as many as 20% of patients who participate in shared decision making choose less invasive surgical options and more conservative treatment than do patients who do not use decision aids.
Which lowers health care costs.
…a 2012 study…showed that providing decision aids to patients eligible for hip and knee replacements substantially reduced both surgery rates and costs — with up to 38% fewer surgeries and savings of 12 to 21% over 6 months.
[It’s] estimated that implementing shared decision making for just 11 procedures would yield more than $9 billion in savings nationally over 10 years.
So what is shared decision-making and why aren’t more health care providers using it?
Shared decision-making isn’t just about Googling a drug or treatment and then asking your doctor a few questions. It emphasizes evidence-based medicine, for sure, but also takes into account patient values, support systems and even finances.
The Informed Medical Decisions Foundation does a good job explaining it in this short video:
Unfortunately, our fee-for-service medical system tends to exaggerate benefits and downplay risks. That means unless patients are really motivated to do their own research, ask questions, and take time to come to a decision about a drug or treatment, they can find themselves suffering from complications or poor results or even medical errors that might have been avoided.
There have been effective shared decision-making tools—written materials, videos and interactive media—available for many years now. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) even funded an independent organization to develop and standardize patient decision-making aids.
But of course because of the financial disincentive, most health care systems don’t use them.
Are you interested in taking a more active role in working with your care provider to determine which tests or treatments are best for you?
The Informed Medical Decisions Foundation is a good place to start for more information.
I’ve put more links to shared decision-making organizations on my Resources page.
And the patient consumer advocacy group FamiliesUSA has recently developed two excellent patient guides on these specific topics. You can download PDFs from the link, if either of these issues is a concern for you.
FamiliesUSA hopes to produce more of these “Proven Best Choices” guides in the future, and I look forward to seeing them.