December 20, 2017
Shared Decision-Making is an emotionally charged topic for both physicians and patients. Physicians believe they have their patients’ best interests at heart by guiding them into better health through therapies to improve their conditions. Physicians may believe, in fact, that by explaining health status and treatment alternatives (followed by asking the patient to decide), they are already using a Shared Decision-Making process. Patients, in turn, are facing a higher share of costs, yet an ever-worsening health status that requires improvement to avoid financial disaster. Imagine a typical physician-patient discussion about an important medical decision or the path for improving outcomes…Read More
December 14, 2017
Is Shared Decision-Making the Path to Improved Provider Performance?
As an escalating percentage of Americans (including children) are diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension, the health care system is straining to control costs and demonstrate good clinical outcomes. No surprise that providers blame patients for lack of compliance with therapies or lifestyle changes that will improve their health status. Hence the uptick—some say warranted—in incentives or penalties assessed by insurers or employers on patients who don’t “behave.” But this punitive finger pointing is neither equitable nor productive. Just as it’s unfair to hold physicians, alone, to be fully accountable for patient outcomes in quality reporting and cost, without giving them…Read More
December 6, 2017
For Tough Medical Decisions, Hard Choices Require Hard Facts—Not Conventional “Wisdom”
What matters in medical decisions is what we know, not what we think. In the late 1980’s I cared for a pregnant woman with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in pregnancy, but uncommon in frequency, occurring in about 1 in 3,000 pregnant women. Providing and receiving treatment is certainly a complex emotional experience; at that time, uncertainty about how to treat was the norm. The woman had a mastectomy but did not take chemotherapy based on concern for her baby. Three months after her delivery, now receiving chemotherapy for her aggressive breast cancer, the…Read More