We are working to develop tools to improve communication
between patients and health care providers.
One of the most effective ways to improve health outcomes and increase people’s satisfaction with care is not through high-tech medical advances, nor other expensive health services, it is through better communication and more responsive, patient-centered decision making. This type of care—often called shared decision making—has at its core a strong partnership between health care provider and patient. Working together, patient and provider use the best scientific evidence and the patient’s values, needs, and preferences to make the decisions that are right for each individual.
Researchers at The Dartmouth Institute are on the forefront of shared decision making research. We are working to develop tools to improve communication between patients and health care providers, and to integrate shared decision making into health care practice at many levels. CollaboRATE, a short questionnaire developed by our researchers to measure shared decision making from a patient's perspective, is helping to assess health care quality and provider performance. Members of the shared decision making research team recently used CollaboRATE to help investigate whether people with depression are getting the information they’re seeking regarding treatment options from health care providers.
We are also developing and testing easy-to-use, one-page decision aids, such as Option Grids™, designed to help patients compare alternative treatment options for breast cancer, and depression, among other conditions. We are investigating whether decision aids and tools like Option Grids can help facilitate shared decision making and increase patient satisfaction among underserved patients, specifically, in those with lower health literacy and/or limited verbal communication skills.
Finally, our researchers are developing innovative methods of education and training aimed at helping health care providers, hospitals, and health systems to better understand and respond to the needs and preferences of patients.
“We are trying to identify the organizational and policy factors that can help hospitals and health systems implement shared decision making throughout their organizations, so that it becomes the standard way we make decisions about our health care.”