Jessie Gruman's Valentine to Shared Decision Making

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Jessie Gruman is president of the Center for Advancing Health but she’s also faced four different cancer diagnoses. Today she writes here “Valentine to Shared Decision Making.” I encourage you to read the full piece, but here’s an excerpt:

As an advocate for policies that support people’s engagement in their health care and a veteran of a few serious illnesses, I support this approach. But I am also currently a cancer patient. Over the past months, I have found it hard to align the neatness of shared decision making that exists in the warm environment of the conference room with the cold reality of the exam room. It seems idealized, isolated from the clutter of health care delivery and the emotional and physical ebb and flow of illness.

Shared decision making is an aspirational model that delineates changes that are necessary, given the increasing number of options we face in making good use of our health care. In its precision, the model demonstrates to us, our caregivers and our providers just how these values might guide the many decisions that we navigate together every day.

Sure, the choice before me, my abilities and my condition will always influence the way my physician and I interact. And of course, the progression of science will by its nature limit the depth and breadth of any formal set of evidence I review.

But the values embedded in shared decision making were woven through the five weeks I describe here, even when my doctor and I were in “hard places.” My participation in my care was enabled and expected. My choices guided my treatment. My provider and I worked together to ease my suffering.

The heat now accorded to shared decision making is driving a shift in the values and behavior of us all.

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