NQF 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 clinicians
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
With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, NQF convened a multistakeholder panel of 21 experts, co-chaired by Maureen Corry, MPH, senior advisor for
childbirth connection programs, National Partnership for Women & Families,
and Christopher Saigal, MD, MPH, professor and vice chair of urology, UCLA
School of Medicine. 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. The report is available on NQF’s website.
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. These standards build upon initiatives from
the International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration to develop
criteria and the Washington State Health Authority to develop and implement a
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.
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