Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time engaging in thoughtful discussions about shared decision making (SDM) in a number of forums around the world. My travels began on the other side of the globe at the Australian Disease Management Association’s 8th Annual National Conference. This year’s theme was “Working Towards Integrated Chronic Disease Management”; topics of discussion included SDM, health literacy, evaluation, quality and safety, and consumer engagement. I had the opportunity to be part of a panel highlighting the quality imperative for involving patients in health care decisions though a SDM process. Closer to home, I was invited to participate in Kaiser Permanente’s Decision Making Summit, “Integrating Shared Decision Making Across the Continuum of Care.” Participants discussed how SDM could be implemented in different areas of care from prevention, to diagnosis and treatment, to palliative care. And most recently, I found myself in sunny Arizona at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM). This event is always a treat for me, as it is an opportunity to see the results of the hard work of many of our colleagues.
One theme that was hard to miss in my travels was the broadening horizon of the perceived value of SDM in the medical encounter. The benefits of having the patient participate in SDM when it comes to all aspects of their care now seems to be at the forefront of the minds of researchers, clinicians and health systems. This is an exciting development and one we believe is justly deserved.