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The Value of Shared Decision Making

Shared decision making (SDM) is a key component of person-centered healthcare. As the Patient Advocate Foundation explains in a new white paper, SDM is a process in which healthcare providers (HCPs), patients, and caregivers collaborate to make decisions about treatment, tests, care plans, and supportive services. The process allows for the development of care plans that balance clinical evidence with patient and caregiver goals.

Thanks to continued advancements in technology, we have enormous amounts of information at our fingertips. This is especially true when it comes to online health resources, such as WebMD. As a result, patients are more empowered than ever, arming themselves with information based on their own research before even stepping foot in a doctor’s office. 

Yet, with this power comes the responsibility to distinguish fact from fiction. HCPs help patients sort through the noise during SDM. The process involves HCPs asking patients and caregivers about the goals, values, and preferences most important to them. HCPs then provide clinical context about treatment benefits, risks, and costs to help the entire team arrive at care plans rooted in agreed upon goals.

Ultimately, SDM fosters a healthcare system in which patients, caregivers, and doctors co-create health plans that meet both clinical and personal objectives. The burden of decision making is never placed solely on one party, but instead is a collaborative effort in which the patient is an integral part of the process. We break down the steps of SDM in our latest infographic below.

Shared Decision Making

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