Information Management in Healthcare: Defining the Scope of the Shared Decision-Making Problem

Shared decision-making is one of the possible methods to enhance the experience of patients during treatment. It is usually characterized by the development of a number of interactive processes between doctors/nurses and patients. This method may help facilitate patients’ involvement in those situations when they realize there is no simple right or wrong decision, an equipoise as such, and the final solution must be based on their personal values (Joseph-Williams, Elwyn, & Edwards, 2014).

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However, despite the fact that shared decision-making is defined as a gold standard for cooperation in hospitals looking to improve levels of patient satisfaction and confidence, not much literature is available on this topic (Hauser et al., 2015). In addition, every hospital is free to develop its own methods of communication between patients and medical staff. Therefore, the scope of addressing this problem (i.e., a lack of understanding of the value of shared decision-making) should include the nearest local hospitals, as well as information from trials and studies from the last five years.

Both qualitative and quantitative data can be helpful in discussing the challenges and benefits of shared decision-making and for defining its impact on patient satisfaction and health outcomes. For example, interviews should be developed with a small number of hospital leaders and nurses to explore their opinions and perspectives on shared decision-making and its application in a particular setting. This method aims at defining what employees know about the chosen method and if they are willing to use it in the future.

Quantitative data from patient surveys will demonstrate the effects of shared decision-making on the quality of care, health outcomes, and the level of patient satisfaction. Questionnaires with a list of definite cross-ended questions and possible answers will be offered to patients to gather numeric data. This will be used to support the qualitative facts obtained from the interviews.

Baseline data is an important factor in the definition of the scope of the problem. It is possible to use such online research databases as PubMed or the Cochrane Library to ascertain publications of controlled interventions and trials on shared decision-making. The goals of benchmarking studies are to compare the results of patient participation in their treatment processes in different hospitals.

For example, Joseph-Williams et al. (2014) focus on the idea of “no decision about me without me” to be applied in the modern patient-centered healthcare system (p. 292). This practice meets the organizational goals of many hospitals. The discussion of shared decision-making in clinical and private practice is properly developed by Hauser et al. (2015), who explains the burning need for patients to be involved in decisions about treatment. These prescribed practices must be followed in local hospitals to understand if the improvement of care quality is possible.

The findings of the chosen studies prove that many hospitals find it necessary to promote shared decision-making among their doctors and nurses. Patients benefit from the offered methods through improved well-being and having the chance to achieve the best health outcomes.

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However, nurses or doctors cannot use this method of communication without any preparations made beforehand. Joseph-Williams et al. (2014) recommend nurses learn how to provide patients with enough information about their options, avoid using complicated medical terminology, and offer support in decision-making. Hauser et al. (2015) consider shared decision-making as a successful combination of patients’ education and participation. Both approaches can be used to identify the essence and potential outcomes of the chosen quality improvement practice.

The level of risk associated with this project remains minimal because of the small amount of harm and discomfort to all the participants. The only foreseen risks connected to the practice of shared decision-making that may be developed are in relation to the age of the patients. For example, pediatric children cannot participate directly in shared decision-making because of their low level of knowledge and dependence on their parents or other caregivers’ decisions. Another group of patients whose participation causes certain risks is adult patients with mental health problems. It is important to communicate with family members and assess the mental condition of a person before using shared decision-making as part of a treatment plan.

Therefore, the frequency of the problem depends on the age of patients who receive services in the chosen hospital. This project is important due to the possibility to achieve positive health outcomes with a minimum of direct interventions and changes in patient’s treatment. Communication between doctors or nurses and patients may not take much time, but its consequences inincreaseatients’ knowledge and encourages their desire to improve their lifestyles.

In general, looking at the information gathered on the topic of shared decision-making and its implementation in hospitals, it is possible to determine a further development and define the nature of the project. The presence of qualitative and quantitative data in the project demonstrates that it is a mixed research approach. This combination of methods is well suited to be applied to a quality improvement project with minimal levels of risk for participants, aligned with the possibility to achieve positive health outcomes. Quality improvement requires effort on the part of healthcare staff to define the problem and find a solution within the current healthcare system. Participants should be ready for changes according to their priorities, values, and expectations.

References

Hauser, K., Koerfer, A., Kuhr, K., Albus, C., Herzig, S., & Matthes, J. (2015). Outcome-relevant effects of shared decision making: A systematic review. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 112(40), 665. Web.

Joseph-Williams, N., Elwyn, G., & Edwards, A. (2014). Knowledge is not power for patients: A systematic review and thematic synthesis of patient-reported barriers and facilitators to shared decision making. Patient Education and Counseling, 94(3), 291-309. Web.

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