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The Role of Shared Decision Making in Improving Patient Engagement

Patient Engagement | Insights Care

Healthcare professionals are constantly under consumer’s pressure and their requirements. Physicians, regulators, and health providers are figuring out the best way required to engage the patients in their own medical care. Hence, organizations have shifted to shared decision making (SDM) as a key strategy in bringing out the role of patients in their own treatments. SDM enables physicians and patients to share the decisions to arrive at a mutual agreement in the care plan, tests, and the treatment. Physicians base these results on the clinical evidence, balance of risks, and expected outcomes along with the patient’s values and preferences.

By implementing mutual decision via patient education and communication, patients can progress beyond participation and can develop into health collaborator. From the provider’s view, SDM obliges them to merge their clinical expertise realizing that the patients can understand their difficulties alongside acknowledging their value and priorities. Hence, the call for the SDM is emerging now and is seeking more value-based and patient-centred healthcare. Time limitation and the knowledge accompanying with the regulatory action has demeaned the SDM and has allowed it to flow under the radar of the healthcare providers. Consequently, the healthcare professionals require education on SDM and how to practice it to set up a collaborative environment for the patients and the clinical staff.


Experts break SDM down in simple and stable steps. They represent it as a simple example like identifying the patient condition, reviewing the treatment options, testing the patient’s preference and values, and carrying out the decision.

The emerging challenges in these basic steps lie in the present workflow and on the provider’s part via irregular communication with the patients. Such false and inferior information will erode the purpose of the applied decision. In addition, the absence of clarity while considering the treatment choices can leave the patient with the inadequate information in carrying out a healthy decision or can further confuse them, overwhelming them with information.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggest the user of acronym SHARE while discussing the SDM.

Seeking patient’s participation

Helping patient in exploring the treatment options

Accessing patient’s value and preference

Reaching decision with the patient

Evaluating the patient’s decision


SDM is a perfect strategy for engaging the patients; however, it faces numerous challenges. First one is related to the awareness of the SDM. There are only a few caretakers that actually know about the SDM practice or the best way of facilitating it. Healthcare providers already struggle as they cope with the regulatory burdens, quality, reporting programs, schedules, and other healthcare sector demands. Integrating the SDM in an already congested schedule can lengthen the framework and can impede their workflow. However, critics believe that SDM does not take away much clinical time. Studies have accompanied these decisions by showing positive to mix results.

Physicians can practice SDM to their likeness and enjoy the outcomes as they help patients to improve quality and their understanding. Providers just need the strategies that can promote SDM in accommodating a place in their clinical practice. Leaning on care coordination, team-based models, and nurse communications can help physicians in establishing SDM into practices.

Overcoming these restrictions with the knowledge, time, and consistency may prompt many other industries in creating resources required to implement the SDM.


As medical decisions are always complicated, therefore, it is essential for general citizens to welcome information from healthcare providers, caregivers, or even from patients. The primary goal of SDM is to enlighten patient and provide them with access of the evidence-based decisions that further aid the patients in learning them about their care options and make decisions that align with their preferences and care goals. Hence, the tools like interactive media and multimedia are meant to be the partners of the conversation, taking place between the patient and healthcare provider. This can help in guiding the patients in forming strong decision even when they are stuck in complicated situations.

Experts believe the despite hurdles and obstructions, SDM can have a positive impact on the clinical elements. A study published in 2012 illustrated that SDM helps patients in revealing anxiety about the health care costs, which further allows the patients in choosing the best and personal care priorities and treatment budgets. A separate study reveals that SDM reduces the preventable hospital readmissions, which aid the patients in deciding the best treatment that is beneficial for them.

SDM also supports informing the value-based care models. Using these models, patients can opt-out of the expensive and potentially ineffective treatment options and can choose an option that works for their imminent needs. This is more likely to yield long-lasting results in the long-term. For example, in the last stage of cancer, a patient can pursue less aggressive treatment based on the comfort at the end of their life. It is important for them to live the last moments of their life as comfortable as possible. Ultimately, SDM can be counted as the key that ensures that the patients see results that they truly want.

Physicians are experts on the diseases; hence, they are the best person who can provide insights into the treatment. They can enlighten patients with the side effects or other various aspects of the treatment that can influence patient’s lives. SDM ensures that healthcare providers accommodate the patient preference in the care. In the end, it depends on the patient what he/she prefers, their needs, values, and their incorporation of the treatment planning. Allowing patient’s participation in their own care can be the key for a better outcome and higher patient satisfaction. Physicians that implements and practice SDM must share their models so they can offer the benefits linked to the practice. Consequently, this will make it easier and more workable for other hospitals and clinics to foster SDM into their healthcare.



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