Options

Safer – covers all approaches
Empowers
Enables review

Have you ever been in a consultation as a patient and felt that it was incomplete? That you were told what do do, but did not get an answer your question. That you came away feeling there was something else that could be done. Sharing the options for management of a problem with a patient or indeed anyone you advise provides a much more effective and safer consultation. Remember, also, that doing nothing is an option and often safer too!

Safer – covers all approaches

If you mention all options for diagnosis and management then you know you have provided a thorough consultation. Often people come with worries or questions and this will ensure you address them. Those “what if questions”.
Do I have cancer? Could it be a heart attack? You do not have to go through each diagnosis and management option in detail, but just to mention it has been considered, and why it might not be appropriate. Will this approach take more time? In the long term the answer is usually no. Sharing the options addresses more difficult questions that emerge later and it also saves misunderstandings. There is a net saving of time and enhanced satisfaction with the consultation.

Empowers

By sharing all the options the patient remains in control of the situation with advice. The consultation is patient centred. It helps joint decision making which improves compliance with the treatments and overall plan. It empowers the patient to manage their own healthcare more effectively and to use scare healthcare resources more effectively.

Enables review

If a problem arises or other approaches become a better way to handle things the patient is fully informed. They know you had considered each option and if things are not going to plan they can review the approach with you and take a better path. This is safe and more efficient in the longer term

Resources

Dialogues in decision making for effective consulting…workbook and DVD University of Birmingham NHS Midlands and East NHS Local 2012 12 consultations videos and a workbook to look at shared decision making

To help you consider all the options you can use a circle with radiating lines. Place the problem in the circle and add all possible options at the end of each line. Fill in as many as possible. Ask all those in the room to identify any gaps. This is a helpful educational approach. Using a diagram provides a record of what has been said, gives a focus for the discussion and can be easier to recall.
An options star to help you consider all these perspectives is available under the downloads section of docrick  if you choose  “consultation- options star”

Have a look at the videos and consultations in Dialogues in decision making for effective consulting from NHS Midlands and East and the University of Birmingham for tips on sharing decisions and effective consultations