Doctors Argue for Decision Aids to Promote Patient Engagement

Research on how tools impact health, costs is 'inconclusive,' but clinicians say better-informed patients avoid unnecessary care, frustration

Jeff Cohen learned last May that a biopsy of his prostate came back positive for cancer. To treat the abnormal cells, his urologist offered a choice between radiation and surgery. But Cohen wanted a different option. Couldn't he choose instead to simply monitor the progress of the cancer through active surveillance?

That question—one formed by the 58-year-old's values and knowledge—sparked a discussion with his doctor that patient advocates, health policymakers and clinicians agree is too often missing from U.S. healthcare. That omission is a critical gap, they say, which leaves patients at risk for poorly informed decisions, unnecessary care and frustration that prompts some to abandon treatment.

It may also add to the nation's rising healthcare costs. The Institute of Medicine in 2010 put the annual price of unnecessary medical care at $210 billion. In addition, the underuse of appropriate treatment, particularly medications, because of poor patient decisions and other factors inflates the nation's healthcare tab.

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Source: Modern Health