ER tools help docs, patients choose treatment options

Patients often find it daunting to make the right healthcare choices while in the fast-paced emergency department, but new apps and other tools may help make those tough choices a bit easier.

These aids, which include mobile apps, interactive computer programs, pamphlets and risk calculators, allow for more collaborative and shared decision-making between patients and doctors, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

The emergency room has long been considered the least-conducive environment for collaboration between patients and doctors, so decision-making aids are being developed that are more tailored to the often-chaotic pace of the ER, Erik Hess, associate professor and chair of research in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told the WSJ. Hess and his team developed Chest Pain Choice, an aid for patients with low-risk chest pain that displays their 45-day risk of a heart attack and potential options for care.

"Our goal is not to put the decisions in patient's laps so they feel abandoned, but to involve them in the decision process to the degree they wish," Hess told the publication.

As a significant number of patients use the emergency department for routine care--and reducing such use is an uphill battle for providers--offering a more collaborative environment helps prevent patients from agreeing to unnecessary, and potentially invasive and costly, testing or procedures, Hess said.

To learn more:
- read the article

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