In my last visit with my doctor I asked if I should get a shot to prevent shingles. He didn’t think I needed it, but when I asked why not he gave me a link to a decision aid on his hospital’s website. He also promised that if I chose to get it I could just drop by—no appointment or visit would be needed. I stopped in the lobby and looked at the decision aid on my smart phone. It took me less than five minutes to reach my informed decision. I got the shot on the spot. It was easy on the clinical workflow and I appreciated saving the extra trip. Little by little, shared decision making is becoming a reality.
There are at least 300 million major medical decisions made in the US each year. Most decisions are made with the patient in a state of avoidable ignorance about the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment and of its alternatives.