How Healthcare Is Changing—for the Better

Several experiments are going on across America. What will this movement mean for you?

The Supreme Court ruling on healthcare means college students will see expanded insurance and funding options.

"Shared decision-making" formalizes a partnership between patients and their providers, says Leigh Simmons, co-director of Mass General's program. Jointly, they make the call on treatment paths, taking into account both the scientific evidence and the patient's values and preferences. The hospital's electronic medical records system prompts doctors when a treatment decision needs to be made for one of 35 conditions, reminding them to order educational DVDs for patients through a Netflix-type system and to invite the patients to bring up any questions. Dartmouth-Hitchcock has a shared decision-making center where patients can discuss options with staffers and consult educational aids. Mercy Clinics' health coaches meet with patients to distribute resource material and answer questions; patients then meet with their healthcare providers to plot the right path.

Wunsch watched his video and got a better understanding of his options and what surgery would entail. He opted to get his left knee replaced this spring.

[See Electronic Health Records Gaining Acceptance.]