Help Patients Make Wise Choices About Treatment Options

The concept of patient engagement is becoming increasingly significant as payers, both public and private, look for ways to encourage patient accountability and preventive care, and to move toward a payment system that factors in both costs and care improvement.

But for many physicians, a big barrier to guiding patients toward becoming more involved in their own health care decisions is that ubiquitous one: time.

As one physician said in interviews conducted by the Center for Advancing Health for its July 2014 reportHere to Stay: What Health Care Leaders Say About Patient Engagement: "Because of time constraints and churning of patients through the system, it's impossible to communicate the kind of information patients need to engage and to have patients ask the questions that are so critical."

The good news is that tools are emerging to help physicians initiate focused conversations with patients about many common conditions. One of these is Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) Treatment Options initiative.

 This no-cost program encourages people living with health conditions and their caregivers to explore treatments options for their conditions, compare the benefits and risks of each, and prepare to discuss them with their physician. Two types of print summaries, available to order or download in English and Spanish, help physicians support patient education and help patients and caregivers better prepare for medical appointments and discuss their conditions and options.

  1. Patient summaries are colorful multipage handouts that explain treatments to patients and answer many common questions in clear language, with illustrations.
  2. Physician summaries, typically four pages, are concise, unbiased, and practical synopses providing reliable comparisons on the benefits and risks of treatments for many chronic conditions.

You'll find patient and physician summaries for diabetes and cardiovascular disease on the TMA website, with a link to summaries for more conditions, and to more resources.

Read more about Treatment Options in Texas Medicine  (June 2014).

Published Aug. 26, 2014

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Last Updated On

April 20, 2018