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Tablets, other IT assets can facilitate shared decision-making

Using tablet computers and other "decision aids" can help patients to make informed choices about their care.

Using tablet computers and other "decision aids" can help patients to make informed choices about their care.

Previously in this blog, we have discussed how efficiency and overall quality of care can be vastly improved at healthcare facilities by taking advantage of cutting-edge medical IT assets. Whether it is a new electronic medical records (EMR) solution or a practice management system, the benefits are impressive.

But, what these technologies can also do is empower patients through shared decision-making. A recent article in The Atlantic discusses how more practices need to embrace this philosophy so that patients can make better-informed choices about their care. This can go a long way toward building trust between them and their physicians while making facilities operate more smoothly.

Shannon Brownlee and Joe Colucci, the authors of the article, explain that shared decision-making involves using "decision aids" such as videos, interactive websites and pamphlets that provide individuals with more complete information about procedures and options available to them.

These are used in instances where there are multiple treatment options and no one choice is "right or wrong." The decision should be made according to the patient-specific circumstances and values, not on which procedure is more commonly used.

This approach to patient care has the added benefit of educating individuals on the possible outcomes of different treatment options, follow-up measures that need to be taken and what that will mean for them.

By integrating tablet computers like iPads and other medical IT assets, health practices can ensure that their patients are fully informed about their choices and subsequently make the right decisions based on their needs, further building trust with their physicians.

"We need a system that rewards entrepreneurs for eliminating waste as well as it rewards them for giving us new options," the authors wrote. "We're not taking full advantage of the technology we have until we only use it where it works."

Tablet computers are one example of ways to deliver these types of decision-aids to patients, while EMR systems streamline data and workflows. By combining the technologies that work best and in the right environments, we can start improving the healthcare system in the U.S. today.