Improving care quality by engaging patients in shared decision making

Randy Burkholder
Randy Burkholder March 22, 2018


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With the rapid movement towards value-based payment and delivery in health care, it is critical not to leave one of the key players behind: the patient.  

Structured well, shared decision making (SDM) tools offer an important, patient-centered solution for improving care quality and value. A new report released last week -- National Quality Partners Playbook: Shared Decision Making in Healthcare -- points the way forward. PhRMA is proud to support the development of the playbook, a culmination of the National Quality Forum’s work to convene leading stakeholders and patient advocates to advance best practices for shared decision making. 

There is growing evidence that informed and empowered patients who are engaged in collaborative dialogue and decisions with their clinicians have the potential to drive better health outcomes, improve care quality and make our health care system more efficient. A recent report released by Avalere showed that:  

  • Early evidence suggests that SDM can improve key measures in health care quality that matter to patients and could drive more appropriate health care utilization
  • SDM has the potential to play a critical role in the success of value-based payment models, but current evidence is only reflective of emerging stages of SDM practice and science
  • More comprehensive, patient-centered approaches to assessing value can elevate SDM to the next level in supporting the move towards value-based health care system

The timely release of the playbook takes the crucial step of providing actionable, practical guidance for clinicians and health care organizations seeking to implement or strengthen shared decision making within their care settings. The playbook suggests:

  • Engaging patients and health care providers in the development of SDM processes and tools
  • Identifying relevant outcomes via a collaborative (co-designed) process that includes patients, clinicians, administrators and other stakeholders to ensure validity
  • Selecting and implementing high-quality decision aids that meet the National Standards for the Certification of Patient Decision Aids to help patients make informed decisions
  • Establishing accountability and incentives for engagement in SDM

The playbook is an important resource to spur meaningful change in the way care is provided, and overcome challenges to making SDM a common practice in health care. We hope that all stakeholders can leverage NQF’s detailed recommendations so our health care system can to implement strong shared decision-making processes and tools to support high value care.

Topics: Quality Metrics, Value-Driven Health Care, The Value Collaborative