[Translate to English:] Eine Artztin erklärt einem älteren Patienten eetwas, sie stehen nebeneinander
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The Project: Building productive physician-patient partnerships

The physician-patient relationship has a significant impact on the success of treatment. The objective of our Patients with Impact project is to embed the concept of shared decision making in everyday care.

Patients are entitled to receive extensive information about the opportunities and risks of therapeutic interventions and potential alternatives – this right is enshrined in the civil code of Germany (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB). However, more than two-thirds of patients complain that they are not involved in decisions regarding ongoing care. Our Patients with Impact project aims to bring about positive change in this regard, as the evidence is clear: When patients are involved in these choices, treatment results improve and patients are more satisfied. This approach is based on the concept of shared decision making (SDM), which is not yet widely implemented in practices and hospitals.

Shared decision making uniquely represents the shift in culture and roles that we are pursuing in medicine – turning away from a paternalistic healthcare system to one that is patient-oriented and based on partnership.
Uwe Schwenk, Program Director Improving Healthcare – Informing Patients

Physicians and patients in new roles

We want shared discussions and decisions to become the norm in the day-to-day provision of patient care. In the process, physicians will take on new roles: As coaches and team players, they will describe the risks and benefits of diagnostic procedures and treatments, including potential alternatives, and evaluate them thoroughly – together with patients. A precondition for this communication on equal footing is that patients also take on new roles – that of “co-producers” of their own health. As experts in their own life circumstances, they can work with medical experts to pursue the best possible outcomes. 

Our project components

With a focus on improving the physician-patient relationship, our project has four components:

  1. We indicate which attitudes and conditions are necessary for shared decision making.
  2. We work with Choosing Wisely, an international initiative to counter medical overuse and improve the physician/patient dialogue, and are adapting its approach for implementation in Germany.
  3. We support a move to reform the training of physicians in order to anchor communication skills in teaching and exams.
  4. We promote data-based, regional medical reporting in order to ascertain the causes for regional differences in care, and in order to raise public and political awareness of deficits in healthcare.


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