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The Increasing Importance of SDM and Patient Choice in Today’s Healthcare

A recent report (September 2013) from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that through effective public health measures, necessary screening and medical care, and lifestyle change, at least 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke each year are preventable and that more than half of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths happen to people under age 65.

In the study, CDC officials go on to say that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be helpful in reducing avoidable death by providing medical treatment and screening facilities to a large number of uninsured Americans.

Providing up to 29 million new people with affordable health insurance by 2019 is a good start. However, the key to success goes beyond simply providing access to health insurance. It will depend on how effectively plans and employers can actively engage people in their healthcare and the decisions about their health. Engagement can be done through unique and compelling online and offline educational methods including web-based information about conditions and treatment options, DVDs, telephonic health coaching, and/or any combination of those. Through this engagement, patients are empowered with the tools, resources, and information they need to have informed conversations with their doctors and make the decisions that are best for them based on their values and preferences. This is Shared Decision Making. And, it has been proven to improve patient and provider satisfaction, reduce hospitalizations and invasive surgeries, and improve patient outcomes while reducing costs.

By incorporating Shared Decision Making into patient education services, health coaching, and wellness programs, plans and employers can drive true behavior change by helping patients make healthy lifestyle choices and address chronic conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and the ACA takes hold, Shared Decision Making can play an important role in driving an informed patient. And, an informed and engaged patient is critical to a better system.

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