Online tools have been developed to ensure patients and clinicians can work together

New online tools can help transform patients’ lives

30 Sep 2011

Patients are being given the tools to help them make informed decisions about their treatments and to encourage a shared decision making process between them and their clinicians.

In line with the ‘no decision about me, without me’ pledge made by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley to every NHS patient, a new range of online tools have been developed to ensure patients and clinicians can work together more effectively to make the right decision for the patient at that time.

The new online Patient Decision Aids (PDAs) will be officially launched at the Right Care Shared Decision Making Programme event on Friday 30 September 2011 at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, alongside over 85 delegates from the NHS and other health organisations. The tools will help patients learn more about their conditions and help inform them about options for treatments or tests in circumstances where the clinical evidence shows that there are a number of equally effective options.

The new online tools are accessible on the NHS Direct website and cover eight different preference-sensitive healthcare decisions: Osteoarthritis of the Knee, Enlarged Prostate, Localised Prostate Cancer, Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) /Amniocentesis testing, Prostate Cancer screening, Breast Cancer surgery choices, Osteoarthritis of the Hip, and Cataracts.

The Patient Decision Aids will give patients evidence-based information including the pros and cons of various treatment or screening options. They will also feature a questionnaire and interactive elements, where patients can enter information about their condition, their health status, lifestyle, personal values and priorities, to identify what is important to them. This can then be used by the patient for further discussions with their GP, primary care and specialist teams.

Dr Steven Laitner, General Practitioner and National Clinical Lead for Shared Decision Making, who will be speaking at the event on Friday, said:

“These tools have the potential to transform the lives of patients. Patients will of course still want and need to discuss treatment options with their clinicians but they will start from a more informed, more empowered position. We should allow patients to consider their own needs, personal values and priorities when making a decision about their treatment. This approach also benefits clinicians. Better informed patients can save time in consultations and patients will be more likely to receive treatments which they highly value. It’s really about improving the experiences and outcomes for everyone involved.”

Videos are also available as part of the PDAs. These feature health professionals relaying their knowledge, and patients, who have already made these decisions, talking about their personal experiences for others to learn from.

Printed booklets and a telephone support line provided by NHS Direct health information advisors will also be available to provide support to patients with no internet access or who require help navigating the website or want to ask questions.

The new PDAs have been developed by a team including professionals with clinical and digital expertise at NHS Direct and NHS East of England. The tools have also been piloted at over 35 Acute and Primary Care Trusts across England.

Jean Hardiman Smith, suffers from arthritis of the knee and experiences ongoing pain and stiffness. She used a PDA to find out more about her condition. Jean said:

“The Patient Decision Aid respectfully and gently guided me through all aspects of my condition. It was like having a long, unhurried session with a top knowledgeable specialist, with the extra benefit of additional advice from the videos. The Patient Decision Aid allowed me to learn more about my condition and the treatments on offer. To be able to review this in the context of my own life was hugely beneficial.”

Jean will be talking about her experiences and the benefits she gained from using the PDA at Friday’s event. A film on personalised care planning, recently developed by the NHS East of England’s Delivering Sustainable Care QIPP Workstream and the QIPP Right Care website, will also be launched on Friday.

The PDAs can be accessed at