NQF issues call to action on shared decision-making

Nurse-Patient-Hospital-Credit: Getty/monkeybusinessimages
The NQF is calling on healthcare providers to embrace shared decision-making in their clinical workflows. (Image: Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

The National Quality Forum is calling on clinicians to make shared-decision making a common standard of care for all patients, settings and conditions. 

In addition to calling for providers, patients, payers and policymakers to push for patient-physician models that encourage two-way communication, the NQF also released a guide offering specific guidance on how to implement shared-decision making in clinical practice.

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The huge amount of data available to patients makes informed decision making theoretically possible, but without guidance from clinicians that information may not be as useful as it seems, Maureen Corry, co-chair of the National Quality Partners Shared Decision-Making Action Team, said in the announcement.

“Even though patients have access to more healthcare information than ever before, in reality, they often may not fully understand important (basic) information about the risks and benefits of treatments and alternatives, and even if they do, they often are not given the opportunity by their clinicians to provide meaningful input into their healthcare decisions,” she said.

Though shared decision-making is not a new or complicated concept, it can be tricky to apply in practice. A recent plan by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to test a shared decision-making model among accountable care organizations wound up scuttled after the agency ran into difficulty getting enough ACOs to participate.

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In a brief (PDF), the NQF outlined its recommended approach for effective integration of shared decision-making in healthcare organizations. The organization stresses the need to provide both providers and patients fundamental information about the process, so that they understand the goals of shared decision-making and communicate effectively. It also recommends that organizations develop and use “patient decision aids” based upon high-quality, objective, evidence-based information to help patients understand their options.