Why Shared Decision-Making Is a Good Thing in Healthcare

In a drive to improve patient satisfaction and medical outcomes, a growing number of healthcare providers are starting to adopt what is known as shared decision-making (SDM). The practice seems especially prevalent among healthcare providers committed to complete care. That is a good thing.

Complete care is an approach to delivering healthcare services that go beyond treating symptoms. It takes a more holistic approach intended to treat the whole person rather than just the body. Complete care also looks to uncover the root causes of a person’s medical condition or illness. It answers those root causes with a variety of services offered with a team-based approach.

Understanding the scope of complete care makes it obvious that SDM needs to be part of it. Why? Because it is nearly impossible to provide truly complete care if patients are left out of decision making. It’s no more complicated than that.

Improving Patient Adherence

Among the many motivations for practicing SDM is the desire to improve patient adherence to treatment plans. Doctors are understandably frustrated when they put together treatment plans patients do not follow through on. By the same token, patients are less likely to adhere to treatment plans if they feel disengaged or ignored.

SDM improves patient engagement by making patients active participants in the decision-making process. Patients have input into their own care. Their thoughts and opinions matter. As a result, they are more engaged and more likely to adhere to treatment plans.

Improved Outcomes and Satisfaction

Improving adherence to treatment plans tends to improve patient outcomes. And when outcomes are improved, patient satisfaction tends to follow. It is a simple algebraic equation when you step back and think about it. That being the case, why would any healthcare provider not want to embrace SDM?

It’s not as though SDM is hard to implement. Any clinician can adopt the practice in day-to-day operations. It is as simple as having conversations through which patients are included in all the decisions regarding their healthcare.

Just being able to have a rational conversation increases engagement. Personally, I know I feel more engaged after conversing with my doctor – as compared to sitting and listening to her dictate to me.

More Appropriate Treatments and Procedures

SDM also impacts how treatments and procedures are approached. Frank discussions about everything from costs to potential side effects make for better use of treatments and procedures. Physicians and their patients are better positioned to reject unnecessary treatments and procedures as well.

Good conversations lead to more informed patients who understand their options. As a result, they often choose less invasive procedures. They opt for more conservative treatment plans. Patients are even more amenable to stepped care.

A More Collaborative Relationship

When all is said and done, SDM leads to a more collaborative relationship between provider and patient. This is one of the goals at Utah-based KindlyMD, where clinicians are firmly committed to making sure that patients are always in charge of their own care.

KindlyMD’s complete care does not stop at merely helping patients feel physically better. A true complete care scenario seeks to improve patient wellbeing throughout the entire provider-patient relationship – no matter how long it lasts. SDM contributes to the collaborative relationship that sits at the heart of complete care.

If SDM works so well in KindlyMD’s complete care environment, there is no reason it couldn’t work equally well in a more traditional allopathic setting. The fact is that SDM is a good thing for healthcare at every level. Given that healthcare is supposed to be about the patients, engaging them through SDM should not even be negotiable.

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