Shared decision-making is an essential part of the clinician-patient relationship. When done properly, it helps align values and goals for important healthcare decisions.
Dipti Itchhaporia, M.D., FACC
President, American College of Cardiology
A heart disease diagnosis can be a life-altering experience. Heart disease patients may need to navigate a wide array of tough decisions about which treatments or tests are right for them.
Thankfully, patients are not alone in making these decisions. In a new frontier, clinicians are committed to helping patients make informed health decisions through shared decision-making.
Working together as one team through shared decision-making, clinicians and patients can improve outcomes and facilitate patient involvement in their own healthcare decisions. When done properly, shared decision-making can help patients increase their knowledge and satisfaction with care, define clearer goals for treatment, and align health decisions with their values.
These results are essential to ensuring optimal patient care, and knowing this, the cardiologist and cardiovascular care team members of the American College of Cardiology have made teamwork and collaboration through shared decision-making a pillar of our core values.
Decision aids, which are tools to help patients better understand their options, are often used to help facilitate these conversations. They come in many forms, but are usually online worksheets, videos, or brochures. Typically, decision aids will outline the objective considerations (things we know to be true through clinical evidence) and subjective considerations (a patient’s health goals and feelings) to come to the best possible outcome.
It should be noted that decision aids do not take the place of a thoughtful discussion between clinicians and patients, but the best decision aids support quality decision-making.
One of the keys to shared decision-making is fostering the clinician-patient relationship. An involved and committed clinician is more likely to help guide a patient through important and thorough decisions. A patient who can understand their diagnosis is more likely to be open to learning about treatments and tests available to them. Healthcare decisions are stressful, but shared decision-making works to lift the burden and strengthen the clinician-patient relationship.
Remember, you and your loved ones are not alone in navigating heart disease care, whether you are newly diagnosed or facing a new treatment decision. Your cardiovascular care team can work with you every step of the way to find the treatment that is best for you.