Background: For many healthcare decisions, multiple alternatives are available with different combinations of advantages and disadvantages across several important dimensions. The complexity of current healthcare decisions thus presents a significant barrier to informed decision making, a key element of patient-centered care.Interactive decision dashboards were developed to facilitate decision making in Management, a field marked by similarly complicated choices. These dashboards utilize data visualization techniques to reduce the cognitive effort needed to evaluate decision alternatives and a non-linear flow of information that enables users to review information in a self-directed fashion. Theoretically, both of these features should facilitate informed decision making by increasing user engagement with and understanding of the decision at hand. We sought to determine if the interactive decision dashboard format can be successfully adapted to create a clinically realistic prototype patient decision aid suitable for further evaluation and refinement.
Methods: We created a computerized, interactive clinical decision dashboard and performed a pilot test of its clinical feasibility and acceptability using a multi-method analysis. The dashboard summarized information about the effectiveness, risks of side effects and drug-drug interactions, out-of-pocket costs, and ease of use of nine analgesic treatment options for knee osteoarthritis. Outcome evaluations included observations of how study participants utilized the dashboard, questionnaires to assess usability, acceptability, and decisional conflict, and an open-ended qualitative analysis.
Results: The study sample consisted of 25 volunteers - 7 men and 18 women - with an average age of 51 years. The mean time spent interacting with the dashboard was 4.6 minutes. Mean evaluation scores on scales ranging from 1 (low) to 7 (high) were: mechanical ease of use 6.1, cognitive ease of use 6.2, emotional difficulty 2.7, decision-aiding effectiveness 5.9, clarification of values 6.5, reduction in decisional uncertainty 6.1, and provision of decision-related information 6.0. Qualitative findings were similarly positive.
Conclusions: Interactive decision dashboards can be adapted for clinical use and have the potential to foster informed decision making. Additional research is warranted to more rigorously test the effectiveness and efficiency of patient decision dashboards for supporting informed decision making and other aspects of patient-centered care, including shared decision making.