A Demonstration of Shared Decision Making in Primary Care Highlights Barriers to Adoption and Potential Remedies

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 32, no. 2, Feb. 2013, p. 268-275

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2013

by Mark W. Friedberg, Kristin R. Van Busum, Richard Wexler, Megan Bowen, Eric C. Schneider

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Recent developments in health reform related to the passage of the Affordable Care Act and ensuing regulations encourage delivery systems to engage in shared decision making, in which patients and providers together make health care decisions that are informed by medical evidence and tailored to the specific characteristics and values of the patient. To better understand how delivery systems can implement shared decision making, we interviewed representatives of eight primary care sites participating in a demonstration funded and coordinated by the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. Barriers to shared decision making included overworked physicians, insufficient provider training, and clinical information systems incapable of prompting or tracking patients through the decision-making process. Methods to improve shared decision making included using automatic triggers for the distribution of decision aids and engaging team members other than physicians in the process. We conclude that substantial investments in provider training, information systems, and process reengineering may be necessary to implement shared decision making successfully.

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