A call to action for policy makers to take meaningful steps to implement what the authors call “the sleeper” shared decision making (SDM) provision of the Accountable Care Act (ACA) was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
The authors, Emily Oshima Lee from the Center for American Progress and Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel from the University of Pennsylvania, make a compelling argument that the benefits of SDM with the use of decision aids — improvements in patient knowledge, lower anxiety over the care process, improved health outcomes, reduction in unwarranted variation in care and costs, and greater alignment of care with patients’ values — should warrant swift action on the provision of the ACA (Section 3506) that relates directly to SDM implementation. Lee and Emanuel argue that the current pace of Section 3506 implementation is detrimental to both patients and the health care system as a whole.
The authors believe the Department of Health and Human Services should quickly launch pilot programs for SDM while it works to standardize and certify decision aids. But policymakers shouldn’t stop there. They would like to see SDM integrated into other key ACA initiatives, including patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations and the adoption of electronic medical record technology.
You can read the article “Shared Decision Making to Improve Care and Reduce Costs” on the NEJM website. You may also be interested in this companion piece by the authors on the Center for American Progress’ blog.