Informing and involving patients to improve the quality of medical decisions

Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 Apr;30(4):699-706. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0003.


Good-quality care requires that procedures, treatments, and tests be not only medically appropriate, but also desired by informed patients. Current evidence shows that most medical decisions are made by physicians with little input from patients. This article describes issues surrounding informed patient decision making and the steps necessary to improve the way decisions are made. Creating incentives for providers and health care organizations to inform patients and incorporate patients' goals into decisions is critical. Patient surveys are needed to monitor the quality of decision making. Health information technology can help by collecting information from patients about their symptoms, how well they understand their options, and what is important to them, and sharing that information with providers. We review public and private developments that could facilitate the development of tools and methods to improve patient-centered care.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • United States