Using Decision Aids to Help Patients Make Treatment Decisions


Interactive tools can increase patient satisfaction and streamline your practice

Patients are more proactive than ever about researching their treatment options and partnering with their doctors to receive the best care possible. The concept of shared decision making (SDM) in health care has been around for a long time, and so has the practice of using patient decision aids (PDAs) such as educational literature, videos, and interactive tools. Yet it’s only fairly recently that their benefits have been studied. “More than 100 published, randomized trials using PDAs have shown many benefits,” according to the Health Affairs blog.

But in spite of the evidence of PDAs to help explain the options, benefits, and risks of various medical treatments, they are not in widespread use, reported health care nonprofit The Commonwealth Fund. “Given the level of evidence, this may be one of the best-documented but underused interventions in American medicine,” said Michael J. Barry, M.D., president of the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.

Are you overlooking the benefits of decision aids in your practice?

The link to patient satisfaction

A primary concern for doctors is time pressure—a factor that is linked to burnout, according to studies. They may feel that they do not have adequate time to learn and integrate decision aids into their busy daily schedules. But evidence shows this fear is unfounded. In fact, the right decision aids can streamline decision making and increase patient satisfaction.

“High-quality decision aids can help relieve health care provider time pressure by providing patients with evidence-based, unbiased information on treatment options, risks, and benefits,” notes nonprofit foundation ACP Decisions. “They can ignite a meaningful conversation by enabling patients to engage in the process with informed questions and concerns. When decision aids are integrated into the workflow and used as part of a clinical team effort, they can further improve, simplify, and expedite the process.”

The use of decision aids has a positive effect on doctor-patient communication and can expedite the medical decision-making process.

Furthermore, there is a direct link between decision aids and patient satisfaction. A literature review that analyzed shared decision making along with patient engagement and use of decision aids “found that this communication approach is consistently linked to greater satisfaction among patients,” reported The Commonwealth Fund. And a Cochrane review found that the use of decision aids has a positive effect on patient‐practitioner communication, improves patients’ knowledge, and helps them participate more in decision making and have more accurate expectations of outcomes. The type of decision aid matters, too. Compared to text-only materials, patients in a Patient Education Impact Study rated narrated animation videos 6 times as easy to understand and were 1.5 times as likely to correctly answer questions about care instructions.  

[bctt tweet=”Patients rated narrated animation videos 6 times as easy to understand and were 1.5 times as likely to correctly answer questions about care instructions. ” username=”goRendia”]

It’s important to clarify—to yourself, your patients, and your staff—that in all cases, decision aids “are meant to complement, rather than replace, direct counseling from physicians,” notes The Commonwealth Fund.

Examples of interactive decision aids in action

Rendia is committed to improving the patient experience through interactive, video-based patient education technology. We equip health care professionals with the tools that help build trust and confidence in doctors’ recommendations. We believe that showing patients what to expect is far more effective than simply telling them.

Interactive tools like Rendia’s can help patients visualize their potential outcomes and help doctors show the value of premium options as well as manage patients’ expectations.

That’s where tools such as Exam Mode play an important role in doctor-patient discussions and decisions. Point-of-Views (POVs) in Exam Mode help patients and caregivers conceptualize their medical condition in a more concrete way—motivating them to adhere to your prescribed treatment plans, attend regular checkups, and make informed treatment decisions.

Rendia’s Outcome Simulator was developed to help eye care professionals communicate the value of premium IOLs or the side effects of refractive surgery to their patients. The advanced vision simulator is fast, intuitive, and customizable to each patient. It allows you to demonstrate visual outcomes and potential side effects to patients, giving them the confidence to make an informed treatment decision and manage their expectations so that they don’t make erroneous (and preventable) assumptions.

Outcome Simulator can also help practices manage risk and boost their reputation. If not properly educated, patients with unrealistic expectations may set you up for failure: bad reviews, or worse, threatened legal action—for instance, LASIK patients who don’t understand the risk of halos and glare post-surgery. Outcome Simulator’s night driving scene walks patients through visual disturbances such as glare, halos, starbursts and blur at varying distances. Practices that use it report that patients are pleasantly surprised with their outcomes after being presented with these worst-case scenarios.

Increase involvement in care decisions and maximize conversions

Decision aids like Rendia give patients a better understanding of their options, making them feel more involved in their care decisions. There are many ways to integrate decision aids into your workflow: you can email videos to your patients before their appointment to explain conditions and treatments, show product videos on iPads or flat screens in your waiting room, or use the interactive simulations with patients in the exam room. You’ll ease patients’ anxieties and maximize your conversions, which in turn helps your practice run more efficiently and profitably.

Ready to elevate your patient satisfaction and adopt a stronger communication strategy? Schedule a call with us today!

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