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Issue Brief
May 2013

Shared Decision Making: Engaging Patients to Improve Health Care

As an advocate for consumer health care, you probably understand how hard it is to ensure that providers and patients are on the same page. That's why it's important for patients to understand all their options and to feel invested in their health care. Shared decision making gives patients this opportunity.

The more patients understand, the more likely they are to ask questions, learn, and receive care that meets their needs. When health professionals team up with patients, it can lead to improved health care, often in a shorter amount of time and at a lower cost than if the patient had been a passive player in the process.

This brief explains how shared decision making fits into a more patient-centered health care system. When patients don't understand their care options, they can end up receiving care that's based less on their own preferences than on their provider's habits. When patients get more involved, they're often happier with their health care decisions and more likely to follow treatment plans.

Advocates should use this brief as a guide to ensure that shared decision-making programs in their states are consumer-friendly.