Healthcare is changing. More and more people are asking to know more about their healthcare choices. They want information and the chance to have a say about their care. Shared decision making is a process in which clinicians and patients work together to select tests, treatments, management, or support packages, based on clinical evidence and patients’ informed preferences. It involves the provision of evidence-based information about options, outcomes and uncertainties, together with decision support counselling and systems for recording and implementing patients’ treatment preferences.
Shared decision making has great potential to give individuals higher quality healthcare. It takes advantage of clinicians as experts on treatment options, and puts the individual in the driver’s seat to consider what’s important to them: their circumstances, personal values, and attitude to risk. While there is good evidence that it works, it is a big culture shift from the traditional ‘passive patient and expert health professional’ style of care that many people are used to.
We think shared decision making can make an excellent contribution to improving the quality of UK healthcare. People are more motivated to take advice and follow treatment plans when they understand the reasons and thinking behind their care, so treatment is more successful. Plus there are strong economic benefits. Research shows that when given the right support and information, patients usually choose more cost effective options.
So, we’ve done our research and looked at how good practice can be implemented on a wider scale. Now, with help from shared decision making experts, we are taking steps to see it embraced throughout the NHS.
Our MAGIC programme is working with frontline health professionals and their priority projects across the UK to test how to embed best practice and overcome the barriers to change. We are one year into the programme and so far we’re seeing some interesting and inspiring results. We think we’re on our way to making healthcare more patient-centred and influencing more healthcare professionals to give patients the choice and involvement they are asking for.