New toolkit guides shared decision making in primary care

By Jessica Ridpath, blog editor and senior research communications consultant at Group Health Research Institute Shared decision making (SDM)—a process that engages patients in making informed treatment decisions based on their values and preferences—is making headlines and gaining traction in clinics and health systems across the country. SDM is a promising strategy for helping achieve health care’s “triple aim”: better care, better health outcomes, and lower costs. But how do you go about implementing SDM in primary care? Thanks to an ongoing effort by the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN), primary care practices interested in SDM can take advantage of a new resource created just for them: Integrating Patient Decision Aids into Primary Care Practice: A Toolkit to Facilitate Shared Decision Making. Based in Portland, ORPRN is a statewide network of rural primary care providers working to improve health care through community and practice-based clinical research. Since 2009, ORPRN has been working with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation as a demonstration site for the implementation of decision aids at six ORPRN clinics. Decision aids, which give patients unbiased information about the evidence-based risks and benefits of different treatment options, can help guide effective conversations between patients and their providers. A customized strategy for success In addition to facilitating the implementation of decision aids (focused primarily on diabetes, end-of-life, chronic pain, prostate and colorectal cancer screening, and menopause), ORPRN’s research team has been studying the impact and acceptability of their use from provider, practice, and patient perspectives. Because the six participating clinics had different features and resources, ORPRN worked with each one to develop a customized strategy for implementation. ORPRN’s new SDM toolkit takes everything they learned along the way and packages it into a step-by-step guide primary care practices can use to assess their readiness for SDM, plan for implementation, and evaluate the results. We invite you to check the SDM toolkit today—and to let us know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing our editorial staff. (Commenting requires a quick and easy login. Your contact information will be kept private.). Learn more ORPRN’s leadership, clinicians, and staff agreed: the project’s key measure of success was “informed, happy, healthy patients.” But how to empower patients and give them more informed choices varied across the six participating clinics. In a brief video (2:44) Melinda Davis, PhD, ORPRN’s Practice Enhancement and Research Coordinator, talks about the impact of shared decision making and how they’re measuring it: Melinda Davis discusses measuring success and patient stories.

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