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01/06/2017

NQF Issues National Standards for Tools to Help Patients Make Healthcare Decisions

The National Quality Forum recently issued a set of national standards for decision aids, which are key resources for improving shared decision making between providers and patients. 


Decision aids–such as videos, online tools, and other resources–are evidence-based tools designed to inform patients who are making specific, deliberate choices about their care among viable healthcare options. Previously, no national standards existed to validate the quality of patient decision aids.


“Both consumers and physicians urgently need healthcare resources they can trust that meet a reasonable threshold for quality,” said Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, NQF’s chief scientific officer. “National standards to evaluate decision aids are critical to ensuring that these resources offer accurate information to patients so they can evaluate healthcare choices that reflect their goals, values, and preferences.”


With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NQF convened a multistakeholder panel of 21 experts (including Thaddeus Pope). The expert panel evaluated the current state of decision aids, made recommendations for national standards, and proposed a two-stage process to evaluate decision aids.


First, the panel identified seven baseline criteria to screen decision aids for their accuracy and appropriateness for patients and consumers, including outlining various treatment options (including non-treatment) and describing the relative pros and cons of each approach. 


For those patient resources that meet the baseline screen, the panel recommends applying a set of certifying criteria to determine whether a decision aid helps patients have more informed conversations with their providers about their care. These certifying criteria include presenting a balanced approach to healthcare options based on scientific rigor and evidence, and a description of the relative risks and outcomes.


NQF’s National Quality Partners will build on this report through a new action team focused on advancing shared decision making between patients and providers, and promoting shared decision making as a standard of care. In addition to launching the action team, NQF is exploring options to pilot test the new national standards through the review and potential certification of decision aids.


The National Quality Forum leads national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement. Learn more at www.qualityforum.org.

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