August 3, 2021 | Using Shared Decision-Making to Improve Patient Health

Improving patient health outcomes often depends on driving greater engagement. One way to achieve this is by implementing shared decision-making. Its ability to include the patient as an active participant in their care can deliver a positive experience that is tailored to them. This opportunity can then foster numerous benefits for both the patient and provider such as improved quality, greater patient satisfaction, and lower healthcare costs.

If your organization is considering adopting shared decision-making, this blog explores how to integrate it within your care delivery approach and subsequently, improve patient health.


What is Shared Decision-Making?

Designed to be a productive conversation, shared decision-making describes a process where providers and patients work together to make decisions and choose treatments based on clinical evidence and the patient’s preferences and values, according to the Patient Advocate Foundation. This way, together, they can determine the best care for that individual patient.


Effectively Implementing Shared Decision-Making

Shared decision-making is meant to consider a patient’s needs, values, and preferences throughout their entire care journey. Before the conversation occurs, an important first step to the process would be to evaluate where patients are on that journey.

For example, screening their health literacy could be key to ensuring they understand their care decisions. According to Health Leaders Media, it could also help determine that patients receive the information and education they need at the right time. As a result, they are better informed for their care visit and can express additional questions about their conditions and treatment options.

Once it’s time for the conversation, the provider and patient can discuss the patient’s condition, treatment options and preferences. After the patient’s preferences are assessed, the provider can help guide recommendations.

One approach that embodies these necessary elements is the SHARE approach from The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality:

Additionally, it is important to note that the process should include communication from the provider that is clear, empathetic, personalized, easy to understand, and actionable. This way, it can build trust and empower the patient as a collaborator in their care. It will also avoid overwhelming patients with confusing or insufficient information for decision-making.


Addressing the Greatest Challenge to Shared Decision-Making

While many providers would likely want to include shared decision-making within their care delivery, they often find that time constraints are the greatest barrier to adoption.

With limited time during patient interactions, a process like shared decision-making can feel difficult to execute properly. A few suggested ways to overcome this include “leaning on team-based care, care coordination, and nurse communication while under a time crunch,” according to Patient Engagement HIT.

Also, another practical way to ensure shared decision-making is included in upcoming care visits is by integrating it into clinical workflows. For example, using EHRs to identify patients with specific situations or conditions that could benefit from this conversation can be a great help, according to the National Institute for Health Care Reform.


Improving Patient Health Outcomes

Shared decision-making has proven to have numerous positive effects. For example, since it offers patients an opportunity to voice their preferences and understand the risks and benefits associated with their decisions, they are more likely to stay engaged in their health. This can then lead to better outcomes such as increased compliance, quicker recovery, reduced hospital readmissions, and higher quality of life.

Additional outcomes include improved patient knowledge, confidence, and patient satisfaction. In fact, 71% of patients reported satisfaction compared to 35% of patients who did not participate in shared decision-making, according to Healthcare Value Hub.

Along with these results, shared decision-making supports value-based care models because as a patient-centered solution, it can improve quality and value while reducing healthcare costs.

When patients choose a treatment that works for their own needs rather than expensive and potentially ineffective treatments, they may be more likely to have lasting results, according to researchers from the Urban Institute. For example, 20% of patients who participated in shared decision-making chose less invasive surgical options and more conservative treatments, according to this article.


Virtual care lends itself well to promoting shared decision-making. As an effective patient engagement strategy that Wellbox practices, it has led us to deliver better care and sustain an 80% engagement rate. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how Wellbox can implement this tactic and drive outcomes for your patient population.

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