Empowering Patients: The Rise of Shared Decision-Making
Traditionally, medical decisions were often made unilaterally by providers, with patients simply following their recommendations. However, both patients and providers are embracing a shift towards shared decision-making. The recent report “What is shared decision-making, and how can it help patients?” from the American Heart Association, published in CT Insider, explores this transformative concept and its potential impact on health outcomes.
The Shift Towards Shared Decision-Making
Historically, the provider-patient relationship was characterized by a paternalistic approach, with physicians making decisions on behalf of their patients. Cheryl Himmelfarb, a Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing professor, notes that today's healthcare professionals prioritize placing patients at the center of their care. This shift involves informing patients about their treatment options and actively engaging them in making decisions about their health.
Shared decision-making is a collaborative process where the healthcare provider and the patient contribute their expertise. In this model, the provider is the expert on medical issues and available treatments, while the patient is the expert on their values and preferences. The goal is to create a treatment plan that aligns with the best evidence-based care while considering the patient's goals and values.
Benefits of Shared Decision-Making
Shared decision-making encourages open lines of communication, enabling patients to address issues or concerns promptly. Numerous studies have shown that this approach leads to better patient outcomes. Patients who participate in shared decision-making tend to have better physical and mental health, improved medication adherence, lower hospitalization rates, and a better experience with their healthcare providers.
Challenges and Future Directions
Despite its advantages, shared decision-making faces several challenges. Some providers may perceive that they already practice it when, in reality, they do not. Limited time during medical visits is another obstacle, as providers cannot thoroughly communicate with patients due to their busy schedules.
Implementing digital health technology is essential to overcoming these obstacles and promoting shared-decision making. Engagement platforms like Diya Health should be leveraged to proactively communicate with patients and promote a clearer understanding of care. Thus, patients are empowered with the information they need to participate actively, while providers can maintain their existing workflow without an additional time burden.
Shared decision-making not only improves patient outcomes but also prevents unnecessary healthcare utilization. While challenges exist, the healthcare industry is making significant strides toward implementing shared decision-making as a standard practice. Digital health technologies will continue to play a pivotal role in the expansion of this approach to ultimately ensure that healthcare decisions align with patients’ values, goals, and preferences.
About Diya Health
Diya Health is a Silicon Valley-based digital health company that streamlines hospitals' communication with patients' family members to improve satisfaction ratings and increase clinical staff efficiency. The HIPAA and GDPR-compliant platform complements EHRs for inpatient, discharge, and post-discharge communication. Learn more at www.diyahealth.org