Health and Wellness

Shared decision-making: Take control of your own healthcare journey

A pillar of Therapeutic Associates is advocating for and cultivating a team-focused culture and atmosphere. This is not just a tenet of the employees of Therapeutic Associates, but the intention is that it carries over to our patient care in the form of shared decision-making.
Shared decision-making is a growing trend in healthcare that allows for the patient to take more ownership in their healthcare journey. Instead of outright accepting the plans, changes and direction given by your healthcare provider, shared decision-making allows the patient to be involved by asking questions, sharing goals and presenting their own ideas and feedback. This opens more of a dialogue between the patient and their healthcare provider and can diminish a potentially intimidating power differential.
The building of a mutually respectful and comfortable relationship leads to a more trusting relationship as well. This revelation in the patient-provider relationship is advantageous for both parties when it comes to providing the best patient care and treatment plan possible.
The definition and application of shared decision-making requires that at least two people are involved and both people must actively take part in the process of decision-making. Also, within the practice of shared decision-making, the patient must be forthright with sharing information and open to discussion and deliberation.
Once the treatment plan is made, both parties must agree on the decisions made going forward.
Specifically, in the realm of physical therapy, shared decision-making has yielded many benefits, beginning with the changed relationship between the therapist and the patient. The changed relationship invites conversation and involvement in the decision-making process that has resulted in patients feeling less anxious and more confident while in the care of their physical therapist. This conversation-driven model in healthcare leaves the patient with a more satisfied feeling after seeing their provider.
Transitioning to an active rather than passive position as the patient allows for shared ownership and control, which is an advantage in the treatment process where the progression is shared between patient and therapist. Shared decision-making gives the patient more ownership of their progress by giving them detailed information regarding their treatment and a plan that requires their involvement to move towards progression and improved health.
As patients, how do we move towards a shared decision-making model if it is not something that has been a part of our healthcare journey so far? In a way, shared decision-making is about self-management. Communicating that you want an active role in your care is a step that can be taken in order to foster a shared decision-making relationship.
Following the dialogue about establishing a shared decision-making relationship with your provider, it is important that you are honest and thorough in reporting information. Next, presenting your provider with questions regarding your symptoms and goals for yourself allows for a discussion between the both of you that encourages a collaborative approach. Finally, a majority of shared decision-making is accountability to self. As the patient, you have asked for an active role in your healthcare process and this requires activity not just inside the office but outside of it as you commit to a mutually decided-upon treatment plan.
The shared decision-making approach to healthcare has yielded benefits in overall patient satisfaction. Further, shared decision-making has contributed to an increase in confidence among patients and has lessened the anxiety that is typically felt in a healthcare setting. Allowing for patients to have a sense of agency in their care has opened possibilities when it comes to treatment plans and patients’ ownership over their progression in treatment.

Source: Dierckx, Katreine et al. ”Implementation of Shared Decision Making in Physical Therapy: Observed Level of Involvement and Patient Preference” Physical Therapy 93.10 (2013): 1-10.