Advancing Shared Decision Making
For over two decades, the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation has been working to advance shared decision making through research, policy, clinical models and patient decision aids. We believe that the only way to ensure high quality medical decisions are being made is for a fully informed patient to participate in a shared decision making process with their health care provider.
Today’s guest blogger is Karen Baker, MHS. She is senior vice president of consumer experience at Healthwise, where she sets the pace and direction for her teams to produce health information products that are accurate, easy to use, and easy to understand. Her teams focus on developing and delivering information that people can use to make a better health decision or practice a healthy behavior. Before she joined Healthwise, Baker was a journalist dedicated then, as she is now, to understanding her audience and serving consumers with the tools and information they need.
“No decision about me without me.”
That meaningful and memorable health care slogan has its origins across the pond. But it should be the mantra of patients around the world. Those six words capture the essence of shared decision making, especially as we enter an age of patient-centered care.
At Healthwise, where our mission is to help people make better health decisions, we believe that patients are the greatest untapped resource in health care. And given how little time most of us spend with doctors or nurses, if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will?
Peggy Jo, an educator, musician, and writer on educational reform, figured that out pretty quickly. For several years she has been living with an undiagnosed illness that causes her body to develop blood tumors—as many as 60 at a time. She has experienced the power of information and the importance of taking an active role in learning and making decisions about her own care.
“If a person is involved and understands the purpose and the intent behind what is happening, and is a part of the decision-making process,” she said, “then they are much more likely to do what they say they are going to do.”
She knows that a “top-down approach where a doctor says you must go home and do this” is not as effective as “when you put the patient in the center of the circle.”
Peggy Jo speaks from experience, and with authority. To her, shared decision making means “honoring” the patient. “No decision about me without me.”
Everything we do at Healthwise—the solutions we build, the videos we create, the words we write, the technology we develop, the services we offer—is done to honor patients.
- That’s why we write and design with health literacy in mind, because like Peggy Jo, any one of us may one day find ourselves challenged by the demands of a disease and the health care system.
- That’s why we embrace plain language, because if patients cannot understand their doctors or the information they give, patients cannot share in their care.
- That’s why we embed behavior change principles in our products and solutions, so people have the tools and support they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.
- And that’s why we offer more than 170 shared decision-making tools called Decision Points to help people understand the medical evidence, their options, and their values and preferences when making health care decisions.
As we commemorate Shared Decision Making Month, we encourage patients everywhere to demand “No decision about me without me.” With the content, technology, and services Healthwise offers, and with the new expertise and tools we gain from our pending merger with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, it’s more possible now than ever that such a demand can be met. What promising news for Peggy Jo and all patients, wherever they live!
Karen Baker, MHS
Karen Baker has always believed that words have the power to make a difference. At Healthwise, she leads several teams who ensure that all Healthwise products meet the needs of the people who use them. As senior vice president of Consumer Experience, Baker sets the pace and direction for her teams to produce health information products that are accurate, easy to use, and easy to understand. Her teams focus on developing and delivering information that people can use to make a better health decision or practice a healthy behavior. Healthwise goes beyond “consumer-friendly.” Before content is written, Baker and her teams go the extra mile to listen to users and learn their needs. Usability studies and user testing help ensure that the delivery, design, and writing style of Healthwise content reflects the consumer experience and achieves the intended objectives. Baker joined Healthwise in 2001 as vice president of content development and quality and has held several leadership positions since then. Before she joined Healthwise, Baker was a journalist dedicated then, as she is now, to understanding her audience and serving consumers with the tools and information they need. She worked at newspapers large and small across the nation, from the Chicago Sun-Times to The Idaho Statesman, and in positions that ranged from reporter to executive editor. Baker received her bachelor of arts in mass communications from the University of Denver and in May 2007 earned her master’s degree in health science from Boise State University.
The theme of the second week (March 10-14) is Shared Decision Making: The Pinnacle of Patient-Centered Care. Throughout the week we will focus on how shared decision making can help ensure that health care is truly patient-centered. Too often, the patient’s voice is not represented in health care decisions, so this week you will hear from real patients in our special guest blog post panel series.. We will also take a look at our progress toward greater engagement of patients and families in health care during a webinar this week and encourage you all to join us in an effort to create a more compassionate health care system that is responsive to the patient’s voice. Continue reading
What does shared decision making actually look like? We want you to show us! Throughout SDM Month we want you to send us photos and videos that answer that very question. Be creative and have some fun! If you have actual footage of a shared decision making conversation between a real patient and provider that you can share, we’d love to see that too! We will be putting together a wonderful crowd-sourced video montage for our digital freebie on March 27 under the SDM Month weekly theme of “Shared Decision Making in Action”. We hope you will contribute to this project and help illustrate what shared decision making looks like. Continue reading
Shared decision making can and should be a tool to help our patients obtain value in health care. As we try to align the patient, the payer, and the provider, more information regarding the disease process and the available options a patient has to choose from serves the system well. More importantly, it is good for the patient. Continue reading
On February 20, 2014 we announced the pending merger of the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation with Healthwise. Combining these two exceptional nonprofits creates a stronger force for good in advancing the role of the patient. Shared decision making for major treatment decisions is needed to achieve the Triple Aim of better care, better health and lower costs. We are excited that in joining forces we will more quickly extend that value into the mainstream of care. Continue reading