Using Shared Decision-Making to Lower Healthcare Costs


Shared decision-making (SDM) in healthcare is a collaborative process that involves physicians and patients working together to make informed treatment decisions. This approach is gaining recognition as it emphasizes the importance of aligning patient values and preferences with evidence-based treatment options.

Bringing in patient input, shared decision-making not only exemplifies good medicine but also has the potential to generate significant economic savings. This patient-centered approach fosters a stronger doctor-patient relationship and ensures that the chosen treatment plan is tailored to meet the individual needs and goals of the patient. Using a wider range of perspectives and taking into account the unique circumstances of each patient, shared decision-making promotes more personalized and effective healthcare outcomes.

As evidenced by a study led by Timothy T. Brown from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, a three percent increase in shared decision-making can result in a substantial 10 percent reduction in health expenditures. Moreover, this impact significantly escalates when patients are matched with doctors of the same cultural background, underscoring the importance of diversity in healthcare settings.

The Importance of SDM

With more clarity comes better outcomes

When you actively participate in the decision-making process regarding your healthcare, you tend to experience a higher level of satisfaction with the care you receive. This increased satisfaction is attributed to your sense of empowerment and involvement in your own well-being. You have a better understanding of your condition and treatment options, which allows you to make informed decisions.

Being actively involved in your healthcare decisions, you are more likely to adhere to your treatment plans. Understanding the rationale behind the recommended interventions increases your motivation and commitment to follow through with the prescribed therapies. This improved adherence, in turn, leads to better health outcomes and a better quality of life.

Patients have a clearer view of available treatment options

Shared Decision Making (SDM) is an empowering approach that puts you at the center of your healthcare journey. It goes beyond simply providing information about different treatment options; SDM takes into account your personal values, goals, and preferences. By involving you in the decision-making process, SDM ensures that your voice is heard and respected.

There may be a dozen different options available, each with its own unique set of benefits and risks. Some options may have a higher probability of success but come with significant side effects, while others may have a lower success rate but fewer side effects. It's important to weigh these factors and consider the potential costs associated with each option.

With SDM, you can have a more comprehensive understanding of your healthcare choices and actively participate in making decisions that align with your individual needs and priorities. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership and promotes better outcomes for your overall well-being.

Better literacy around your own health

Shared Decision Making (SDM) can greatly contribute to improving your health literacy. By fostering clear and open communication between you and your healthcare provider, SDM empowers you to understand your medical condition and treatment options more comprehensively. This enhanced understanding not only enables you to effectively self-manage your care and make informed decisions, but it also equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate the intricacies of the healthcare system with confidence.

With SDM, you become an active participant in your own healthcare journey. You have the opportunity to collaborate with your healthcare provider in exploring different treatment options, weighing the benefits and risks, and considering your personal values and preferences. This shared approach allows for a more personalized and tailored healthcare experience, ensuring that your needs and priorities are taken into account.

The Economic Benefits of SDM

It saves and pays to understand your options for treatment

Patients who received enhanced support through Shared Decision Making (SDM) experienced a significant 5.3 percent reduction in overall medical costs when compared to those who received the usual level of care. This highlights the positive impact of SDM in improving patient outcomes and providing cost-effective healthcare solutions.

In actively involving patients in the decision-making process, SDM empowers you to make informed choices about their healthcare, leading to better treatment adherence and improved long-term health outcomes. This patient-centered approach fosters a stronger patient-provider relationship, promoting trust, satisfaction, and ultimately, better overall healthcare experiences.

Helps hospitals increase their optimization, pushing down overall healthcare costs

Using patient decision aids in the shared decision-making (SDM) process can not only save you significant healthcare costs but also improve the quality of your healthcare experience. When your healthcare provider takes the time to provide you with comprehensive information and facilitates informed discussions about different treatment options, these tools empower you to make personalized and evidence-based decisions that align with your values and preferences.

This patient-centered approach promotes a more collaborative relationship between you and your healthcare provider, fostering trust and ensuring that your unique needs are met. By actively participating in the decision-making process, you can avoid unnecessary treatments and tests, leading to reduced overall healthcare expenses while receiving care that is truly centered around you.

Bringing Shared Decision-Making Into the Picture

First things first

The first crucial step to actively engage in shared decision-making with your healthcare provider is to clearly and explicitly communicate your desire. By saying, "I want to be an active participant in decisions about my treatment plan," you are voicing your preference and empowering yourself to be an informed and involved partner in your own healthcare journey.

This collaborative approach allows you to contribute your insights, ask questions, and explore options together, leading to a more comprehensive and personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs and preferences. It's all about you taking charge of your health!

Ask as many questions as possible

You are strongly encouraged to proactively ask a multitude of thoughtful and insightful questions about your treatment options. This includes delving into the potential benefits and risks associated with each alternative, as well as exploring any other relevant considerations. By doing so, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the wide array of choices available to you. This empowers you to make well-informed decisions that align perfectly with your unique needs, preferences, and circumstances.

This open and thorough exploration of treatment options ensures that you are actively and meaningfully involved in your healthcare journey. It fosters a sense of partnership, collaboration, and trust between you and your healthcare providers. By actively engaging in this process, you become an integral part of the decision-making process, enhancing the overall quality and effectiveness of your healthcare experience.

Ask for decision aids and cost charts

Decision aids are tools designed to help you become more involved in your healthcare decisions. They provide you with information about different treatment options, including the potential benefits and risks of each option. This can help you make informed decisions that align with your goals and values.

Just like educational literature, videos, or web-based tools, decision aids help you prepare for healthcare conversations. They help you weigh the pros and cons of treatment options. Keep in mind that the availability of cost charts depends on the provider or system. Some decision aids include cost information, but not always. However, it's important to note that cost transparency is gaining importance, so don't hesitate to ask if it's available.

It's important to remember that while decision aids can be very helpful, they are not a substitute for discussions with your healthcare provider. They are intended to supplement these discussions and help you make an informed decision about your treatment.

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