We conclude that the current evidence does not allow us to make definitive statements about whether, when, and why patient decision support interventions could lead to savings. We caution against making claims of significant savings associated with future use, such as those made by the Lewin Group, AHRQ, and NHS bodies. Promise of significant savings risks failure to meet expectations and can jeopardize implementation efforts. There is undisputed added value in ensuring that patients are better informed by use of tools such as patient decision support interventions, and there is a tendency for patients to choose more conservative treatments, but so far there is insufficient evidence to be confident that the implementation of these tools will lead to system-wide savings.
That’s the conclusion of a recently-published paper in BMJ by Thom Walsh and colleagues. In somewhat more plain language, the evidence is inconclusive about whether interventions to help patients select among treatment options (e.g., within a shared decision-making paradigm) save money.
Thom appears with Glyn Elwyn in the brief video below that summarizes some of the study’s details as well as I could in a post. So, watch it.