Over two years ago, I led a panel on patient decision support tools for a large interested crowd in Boston, despite the very snowy day.
Since then, I have noticed a few key changes. Physicians are now prescribing information to patients, using the EMR to send emails with links to health resources. And innovative health plans are playing a role in bringing shared decision making tools to engage and empower their members. Health Plans have a big cost saving incentive when these tools educate their members about less invasive and less expensive options.
3 Key Engagement Drivers With Shared Decision Making Tools
While evaluating technologies for my panel on “Evolving Web & Mobile Tools to Engage Consumers in the Shared Decision Process”, I identified how three key drivers of consumer engagement are being utilized:
These tools show the consumer what the treatment entails and share patient stories which tell them what to expect. This education reduces anxiety by putting the consumer in control to understand their health issues and presenting options to address them.
Shared Decision Making tools are ideally designed for “preference sensitive conditions” where there are multiple clinical options (For information about target conditions, see the recent report on the Dartmouth Atlas Project which was developed with The Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making). The most effective tools offer alternatives, capture preferences and guide the consumer through the process while documenting their decisions. This helps set expectations for their experience and supports the discussion with their doctor or care coach.
As the patient and clinician/coach review the SDM summary document together, they can discuss questions, concerns and comments to make the best decision.
Health Plans Leverage Shared Decision Tools
During the panel, health plans described using Shared Decision Making tools to engage members in two key areas:
- Medical Home
Panelist Zev Lavon, PHD, Director Solution Architecture, CareFirst BCBS emphasized “the story of the patient is not their last doc visit or lab test”. CareFirst launched their Primary Care Medical Home initiative across a panel of physicians deploying communication tools to push information to patients to support the management of their chronic conditions.
According to Mark L. Robitaille, MBA, Head of Care Management Support & Engagement, Aetna puts these tools into the hands of their health coaches to send emails with resources links to members or use the tools to look up information for the members without internet access.
Independent Health panelist, James J. Mis, MBA, Communications Manager, Health Care Services, described their interactive voice response campaign to inform members about viewing a shared decision making video (from Emmi Solutions) selected for their specific health interest.
Emerging Mobile SDM Tools
With a high penetration of smart phones and strong usage across minorities, health care organizations are realizing the tremendous opportunity to deploy mobile applications to engage consumers. To date, most health mobile health applications have been focused on wellness with educational information and tracking.
Panelist Changrong Ji, Senior Solutions Architect, CareFirst BCBS described the opportunity for mobile shared decision making tools. In the future, she envisions that sensors will capture the context of the consumer’s daily life, database analytics will identify patterns and machine learning will be used to help identify relevant mobile messages to send back to the consumer.
Healthwise’s View on Patient Response
During the Shared Decision Making Summit, the chairperson, Don Kemper, Healthwise’s CEO discussed the opportunity for shared decision making tools to give a “voice to the patient”. After the physician prescribes health information, the tool gathers patient’s preferences to document them in the medical record. I strongly agree with Don as he explains “there is no better way to engage the patient than to assure them that their voice will be heard in treatment and care plan decisions”.
Shared Decision Making Tools for Your Consumers
What are you doing to bring Shared Decision Making Tools to your consumers to motivate engagement in their health and wellness? I can help guide you through the process of identifing, evaluating and piloting these technologies to deliver better outcomes and a better experience for your consumers.