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New England Journal of Medicine Perspective on Shared Decision Making

One of the biggest challenges health plans, employers and providers alike currently face is improving quality of care and health outcomes, while lowering costs. At Health Dialog, we seek to address these challenges by providing services and products that empower people to make the health decisions that are right for them. As such, we were pleased to see last week’s perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine  “Shared Decision Making to Improve Care and Reduce Costs” by Emily Oshima Lee, M.A., and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D.

“For many health situations in which there's not one clearly superior course of treatment, shared decision making can ensure that medical care better aligns with patients' preferences and values,” according to the New England Journal of Medicine article. Authors Lee and Emanuel refer to decision aids in implementing Shared Decision Making, “One way to implement this approach is by using patient decision aids — written materials, videos, or interactive electronic presentations designed to inform patients and their families about care options; each option's outcomes, including benefits and possible side effects; the health care team's skills; and costs.”

We created the concept of decision aids, and Shared Decision Making is at the core of what we do at Health Dialog, allowing us to help improve quality, control costs and improve patient satisfaction. Our decision aids, which are the most comprehensive in the industry, provide evidence-based, unbiased information on treatment choices for a wide range of conditions, and help support an informed dialog between individuals and their physicians. Our results are proven as cited in a 2012 Health Affairs study which showed our decision aids were associated with a 38% and 26% reduction in hip and knee replacements.

According to the New England of Journal of Medicine article, “Randomized trials consistently demonstrate the effectiveness of patient decision aids. A 2011 Cochrane Collaborative review of 86 studies showed that as compared with patients who received usual care, those who used decision aids had increased knowledge, more accurate risk perceptions, reduced internal conflict about decisions, and a greater likelihood of receiving care aligned with their values. Moreover, fewer patients were undecided or passive in the decision-making process — changes that are essential for patients' adherence to therapies.”

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