Dr. Melanie Cozad, an assistant professor in the department of health services policy and management (HSPM) and the South Carolina SmartState Center for Effectiveness Research in Orthopaedics (CERortho) in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, has received a $289,576 Independent Grant for Learning and Change from the biopharmaceutical company, Pfizer. Working in close collaboration with Dr. Gulzar Merchant, a rheumatologist with the Greenville Health System, the funding will support the project, Integrating a Personalized Patient-Specific Preference Tool to Enhance Shared Decision Making for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients.
[Photo: Dr. Melanie Cozad]
Through the project, rheumatologists and patients will gain guidance that facilitates better communication during the course of an office visit in order to achieve patient-centered care (i.e., care that meets the patient’s priorities and goals for treatment and fits with the patient’s lifestyle). Working with the rheumatoid arthritis population within the Greenville Health System where CERortho is located, Dr. Cozad and her team* will develop a survey instrument to measure each patient’s individual lifestyle factors and priorities (e.g., pain reduction, fatigue management, mobility). Capturing this information is critical to achieving patient-centered care. To integrate a patient’s priorities into the care process, a patient will use an app-like program to enter his/her goals for treatment into an iPAD or computer that then converts those priorities into a pictograph.
The patient receives the pictogram along with information on how to discuss his/her most important goals with his/her rheumatologist. The patient’s rheumatologist, who will have access to the pictograph in the exam room, will be able to discuss the treatment options available to the patient in terms of the patient’s priorities. The information on priorities becomes part of the patient’s medical record.
“For conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, where a cure is not possible, it is imperative that the care provided meets with the patient’s goals. This approach incorporates a more holistic understanding of how an individual’s lifestyle and priorities affect treatment decisions that, in turn, determine more successful management of the disease,” explains Dr. Cozad. “There are currently no support tools that help the patient express goals to the rheumatologist during the care process.”
The development of this data collection tool and its integration into clinical care holds the potential to achieve care that is of greater value to patients. By helping patients be an active participant in the discussion with their health care provider about the treatment options that are “right” for them, Dr. Cozad and her team hope to improve communication as well treatment adherence.