Excellent analysis of shared decision making as a health care quality issue in Health Affairs

4.cover.gifThe April edition of Health Affairs is a theme issue, “Still Crossing the Quality Chasm.” It includes an article, “Informing and Involving Patients To Improve The Quality of Medical Decisions.” (subscription required for full text access)

The authors conclude:

“We argue that among the most important reforms needed to improve medical care are those that would inform and amplify the voice of the patient when medical decisions are made. To make that happen, patients facing decisions should routinely be given decision-support materials that objectively lay out the options in clear, accessible terms. Reimbursement by public and private payers needs to cover the cost of providing decision-support materials and the cost of physicians’ meeting with patients to decide what decision will best serve patients’ interests.

In addition, the technology systems in medical settings should be designed to collect information from patients about the decisions they are facing, their health status, what they
know, and what they care about.

Finally, we need to collect systematic data from patients about decision quality and the process of decision making to which they are exposed. All of these elements–the tools and surveys–are currently in routine use in select organizations. Now, we need a commitment to putting these elements in place on a widespread basis.”

Two of the authors are employees of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making and a third receives grant funding from the Foundation. The lead author, Jack Fowler, was president of the Foundation when that organization first committed its support to our HealthNewsReview.org project – support that continues to this day.

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