How to Use Shared Decision-Making to Improve Healthcare

Alexandra Yembele
5 min readOct 21, 2022

Healthcare providers are certainly experts in the field, professionally trained to collect and analyze data on patients and recommend care options they believe best meet patients’ needs. But the patient also plays a role, providing input based on their values and desired health outcomes. The physician-centered approach of the past has begun to evolve, shifting to a more collaborative model called shared decision-making. Let’s take a look at how shared decision-making is improving healthcare.

What Is Shared Decision-Making?

Shared decision-making describes a collaborative communication and decision-making process between a healthcare provider and a patient. During shared decision-making, the provider offers the patient clear, detailed information about their health condition and options for treatment, including the benefits and drawbacks of each course of action. The care team seeks to understand the patient’s concerns and how their values and health goals influence treatment decisions. Together, the patient and physician come to a shared agreement on the best course of action and work collaboratively to implement the decision.

Using the SHARE Approach to Improve Patient-Provider Shared Decision-Making

The SHARE Approach was developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as a framework to support healthcare providers in integrating shared decision-making into their daily practice. This acronym embodies the best practices that make this approach to physician-facilitated decision-making so effective.

Seek your patient’s participation

The cardinal principle of the SHARE Approach is inviting your patient to engage in the process. They may choose not to, and that’s okay. But every interaction should begin with an invitation to take part in the process. After the problem has been presented, let the patient know there is more than one treatment option and their input is valued.

Help your patient explore and compare treatment options

Options always exist. In nearly every circumstance, there’s more than one possibility for how treatment proceeds. Begin by listing the options in writing, explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each along with the expected outcomes. Avoid medical jargon, use visual aids like charts or graphs, and incorporate decision aid tools to break down complex decisions. Asking your patient to explain in their own words what each option would entail can help you gauge the level of understanding to ensure your patient has an accurate understanding of the choices presented.

Assess your patient’s values and preferences

Discovering what’s important to your patient can help providers guide further discussion on treatment options to reach a medically-sound consensus that aligns with patient values. Start the discussion by asking open-ended questions, responding with empathy as patients share what’s most important to them as it relates to their medical condition and the treatment options available. Demonstrating active listening and empathy helps build patient trust, a key asset needed to move forward with treatment once an agreement has been reached.

Reach a decision with your patient

Once values have been expressed and treatment options presented, ask if the patient is ready to make a decision. They may need additional time to consider what’s been discussed, conferring with family members or others in their support network. If a decision isn’t made, set a date in the near future when their preferred treatment option can be expressed.

Evaluate your patient’s decision

Once a treatment decision has been made and treatment has begun, monitor the effectiveness of the chosen option and identify how well it’s performing. Be prepared to revisit the decision, helping the patient evaluate if additional options need to be considered in light of how the chosen treatment is progressing.

How Does Shared Decision-Making Help Patients and Providers?

Shared decision-making offers numerous advantages to both patients and healthcare providers. This cooperative approach actively engages all stakeholders to create care plans that support medical best practices and align with the needs and values of patients.

Aligns with informed consent best practices

Informed consent is required before any medical care, treatment, or services are provided. Shared decision-making supports the informed consent process by actively engaging the patient in decisions related to achieving their desired health outcomes. As patients and providers collaborate, patients are able to ask questions, receive information on the pros and cons of each option presented, and assist in choosing the one that best aligns with what’s most important to them.

Improves quality of patient care

Shared decision-making combines the expertise of the healthcare provider with the values, concerns, and input of the patient. This process helps to strengthen the trust and confidence the patient has in the quality of care they receive, fostering a stronger patient-provider relationship. By taking time to listen and learn, the healthcare provider gains valuable information about the patient they can use to guide the discussion towards the option most likely to meet the patient’s health objectives.

Helps address disparities in healthcare

Some patients face significant barriers to accessing care. These could include lack of reliable transportation, lack of trust in the healthcare system, significant work or childcare obligations, or concerns about the affordability of proposed treatments. Healthcare providers who take the time to listen are better equipped to refer patients to community resources that can alleviate these constraints or tailor treatment recommendations that take important extenuating circumstances into account.

Boosts patient engagement

Ultimately, a collaborative approach helps boost patient engagement. When patients are listened to and validated, they’re more likely to actively participate in their care. This heightened engagement can take the form of keeping scheduled medical appointments, greater treatment plan compliance, and greater levels of participation in lifestyle changes needed to reach mutually agreed-upon health goals.

How Withings Health Solutions Supports Shared Decision-Making

Withings connected devices collect and transmit key health metrics. These connected devices provide physicians and patients with valuable information that plays an important role in the shared decision-making process.

Easy to use, engaging device designs increase patient engagement

Our connected devices are designed to activate high levels of patient engagement. Their simple design makes it easy for patients to unlock the full potential of remote patient monitoring technology.

Multiple connectivity options

With Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth connectivity options, providers can pair patients with devices that feature the best connectivity option for them, improving adoption rates.

Extensive collection of remote patient monitoring devices

Withings has a comprehensive line of smart connected devices, including blood pressure monitors, scales, sleep mat, and activity trackers, that may be easily incorporated into a remote patient monitoring program.

Unlocking the Full Potential of Shared Decision-Making

Encouraging patients to engage with providers as equal partners in the medical decision-making process unlocks a host of benefits for both parties. Healthcare providers are better equipped to provide treatment that aligns with patient health goals and values. And active input results in patients feeling empowered, with confidence that the treatment they chose to pursue will best support their desired health outcomes.

Learn how Withings Health Solutions can help support shared decision-making.