The Election Results are in and Shared Decision Making is here to Stay

Michael J. Barry, MD

Michael J. Barry, MD

President Obama’s re-election now makes it all but certain that implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will progress. With a clearer picture of the health care landscape ahead of us, the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation and our colleagues will continue to pursue the opportunities laid out in the ACA to foster nation-wide implementation of shared decision making (SDM).

I’d like to point out two key organizations established through the ACA that we hope to work closely with over the coming years. The first being the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), which cultivates health care transformation by finding new ways to pay for and deliver better care and better health at lower costs.

This summer, CMMI awarded a $26 million dollar grant to the 16 member High-Value Healthcare Collaborative (HVHC), comprised of some of the country’s leading health systems and serving more than 50 million patients. The CMMI grant will fund a program to engage patients and implement SDM for patients facing hip, knee or spine surgery, as well as patients with diabetes or congestive heart failure. The program is projected to result in a substantial medical cost savings over three years, largely due to reduced utilization and costs associated with patients being engaged and empowered in their health care decisions. Members of the Foundation will play an integral part in assisting the collaborative with their expertise in SDM implementation, education/training and measurement. We look forward to the formal launch of the HVHC this spring.

In addition, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is another creation of the ACA that we believe has a critical role in keeping patients informed and involved in their medical decisions. PCORI’s purpose is to conduct research to provide patients with a better understanding of the available prevention, treatment and care options based on scientific evidence. It’s also responsible for performing comparative effectiveness research and studying methods of disseminating this information. We strongly believe that comparative effectiveness research should be paired with SDM. This will allow patients, along with their providers, to make better-informed decisions about their health.

On a personal note, as a primary care physician in Massachusetts, I’ve been fortunate over the last few years to not have to worry about whether my patients have health insurance. Approximately 98% of MA residents are covered thanks to the Commonwealth’s 2006 health care reform legislation. This has taken a burden off of me and allowed me to be more focused on ensuring my patients get the care they need and want. I’m eagerly awaiting the day that my colleagues in other states will also be in this enviable position thanks to the ACA.

Although implementation of the ACA will progress, what it will ultimately look like is still taking shape. We look forward to working with providers, researchers, policy makers and patients through the many avenues provided by the ACA to ensure that SDM is a critical component of health care delivery moving forward.

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