This month, a much anticipated study was published in Health Affairs that addresses something we are often asked at the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation: What are the effects of decision aids on utilization rates and medical costs? Researchers from Group Health Cooperative found that when decisions aids were used for patients making a decision about whether or not to have elective knee or hip replacement surgeries, there was a significant drop in surgical procedures as more patients opted for more conservative, less costly treatment options.
What is most exciting about this study is that it’s the first to examine the impact of decision aids on elective surgery and health care costs in routine medical care. It is also the first major study on decision aids for hip and knee osteoarthritis. You can read more about the Group Health study in our recent post. In addition, Jack Fowler, our senior scientific advisor, has provided some key takeaways from this study in a short video that I encourage you to watch. Jack has also compiled the most up to date research on shared decision making and costs in a succinct Foundation Perspectives white paper that can be downloaded from our website.
Speaking of costs, PBS will be airing a documentary called Money & Medicine tonight, September 25, 2012. This program takes an indepth look at medical utilization and cost variations across the country, and highlights ways in which hospitals and health systems are addressing these disparities. I was honored to contribute to this program, and you’ll also see a number of our colleagues in this piece, including Dr. Elliott Fisher, director of Dartmouth’s Center for Population Health and Shannon Brownlee, acting director of the New America Health Policy Program. For a preview of the program and information on when your local PBS station will air Money & Medicine visit the program’s website.
Dr. Michael J. Barry
President, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation