Log In
Monday 21st May 2018

NHS Direct Pilots New Approach to help Patients Make Treatment Decisions

7th June 2010

NHS Direct is piloting three Online Decision Aids to help patients make informed healthcare choices in the first national web-based project of its kind in the UK.

The Online Patient Decision Aids (OPDA) have been designed for patients who are facing difficult decisions about medical tests or treatments, when there is no clinical evidence that one treatment is better than another and they don’t know which will be best for them.  They will increase patients’ awareness of the expected risks, benefits and likely outcomes, empowering them to make informed choices about their care.  In turn, this will also help ensure NHS resources are used appropriately.

Phase one of the pilot has included the development of an OPDA for patients with  osteoarthritis of the knee, and the transfer onto the internet of two already developed  Decision Aids for patients with an enlarged prostate or localised prostate cancer. All three will be trialled in the NHS across eight pilot sites over eight weeks from the beginning of June 2010.  

Patients who are eligible to take part in the pilot will be given access to the OPDAs via their specialist clinician. Patients can review all the information, including the pros and cons of the treatment options available and can view filmed interviews with people who live with the conditions, before completing a short questionnaire to assess their treatment preferences. The questionnaire can then be used to support joint decision making between the patient and their clinician.

Subject to the successful completion of phase one, and pending intellectual property agreement, further stages will include the transfer online or development of up to six more OPDAs.

At present the only Patient Decision Aids that have been developed across the NHS are for patients with prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate, and these are only available in hard copy.1 NHS Direct’s web-first approach means in the future Decision Aids can be available in a variety of digital formats such as videos, interactive Q&As and webchats, with additional telephone support available via NHS Direct if required.

Although the pilot will be developed as a stand-alone web service with telephone support, the long-term aim is to develop a national multi-media NHS ‘wrap’ for OPDAs using NHS Direct’s existing online health and symptom checker infrastructure.

The pilot will be evaluated by the University of Cardiff and NHS Direct. They will determine the most cost effective process of developing the OPDAs, and review their effectiveness, accessibility and acceptability to patients and clinicians, as well as impact on services. If the evaluation proves that the online service can deliver benefits to patients and the NHS, it will be considered for national launch.

Mary Archer, Chairman, Urology Informed Decision Making Project, says:
“The decision support programme is remarkable because it opens access to high quality peer approved information and support to help people faced with difficult treatment decisions. Making the programme available online extends access to the decision support service considerably and will enable us to keep it up-to-date with all the latest information.”

Ruth Rankine, Director of Strategy and Planning, NHS Direct, says:

“NHS Direct is committed to working with other NHS organisations to explore innovative approaches to healthcare, utilising our national reach and scale. Our national multi-media infrastructure and experience of developing patient focused web services puts us in a unique position to develop Patient Decision Aids for the web and support their successful implementation and sustainability in the NHS.”

Dr Steven Laitner, Associate Medical Director, East of England SHA, says:

“Making a decision about the best treatment for you can be difficult. Patient Decision Aids have a proven track record of helping patients and their clinicians to make informed choices. We know that surgery is not always the best option for patients, for example one in five people who have a knee replacement are not fully satisfied with the result2. International evidence suggests a 20 per cent reduction in ‘discretionary surgery’ when Decision Aids are used.3 I have been working very closely with NHS Direct and other partners to develop the Online Patient Decision Aids and I am keen to see how, using this multi-media platform, we can extend the benefits to more patients and clinicians.”

The pilot has seen NHS Direct working in partnership with: NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (who provided initial support for the development of all three Patient Decision Aids), East of England SHA, Department of Health, Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making and BUPA Dialog.


Share this page


There are no comments for this article, be the first to comment!

Post your comment

Only registered users can comment. Fill in your e-mail address for quick registration.

Your email address:

Your comment will be checked by a Healthcare Today moderator before it is published on the site.

Article Information

Title: NHS Direct Pilots New Approach to help Patients Make Treatment Decisions
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 15075
Date Added: 7th Jun 2010

Recent Related Articles

Surgery delays leaving patients in pain

Newcastle Hospitals appoints new chief executive

Backlog of 'on hold' patients checked at trust

Fatal ward attacks on patients

Wearable tech for stoke patients


Add to scrapbook
Show Comments
Add comment
Find all related articles

Mayden - Innovative cloud-based applications for healthcare
© Mayden Foundation 2018