MAHEC hosts workshop to support shared decision making for patients

November 21, 2017

National Patient Advocate Foundation Invites Asheville to Share 
“What Matters to You?”

On December 7, the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) and the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) will host the first of two national skilled communications workshops to support shared decision making in healthcare.

“Person-centered care requires that patients and providers have the communications skills to talk about what matters at critical points in the treatment process,” shares Gwen Darien, NPAF executive vice president for patient advocacy. “This workshop brings patients, providers and community advocates together to identify and develop those skills.”

The workshop will build on the recently completed Roadmap to Consumer Clarity in Health Care Decision Making by developing a template and resources for future community-based workshops across the country.

“The Roadmap is about health, dignity, and compassion,” shares Meg Gaines, JD, LLM, the workshop’s keynote speaker, ovarian cancer survivor, and director of the Center for Patient Partnerships at the University of Wisconsin.  “Quality healthcare comes down to health and caring,” she adds. “We need to learn how to do that better, heart to heart.”

The Roadmap model for shared decision making was developed by NPAF and the Patient Advocate Foundation with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Asheville workshop will focus on developing patient-centered conversations in clinical settings that support rural and underserved populations, groups that MAHEC has served in Western North Carolina for more than 40 years. This first event will serve as a prototype for future events including a second skilled communications workshop focused on urban populations planned for Chicago this spring.

“I’m excited to work with our community partners to build tools that will help patients have these important conversations with their providers,” explains Kathy Foley, PhD, MAHEC’s research director. “It can be as simple as asking, ‘What matters to you?’ When we ask patients about their goals and values, we can develop a care plan that includes them.”

NPAF leadership, National Human Genome Research Institute’s Carla Easter, PhD, and MAHEC researchers and clinicians will guide workshop participants in a series of interactive panel discussions, human-centered design activities, and a narrative medicine workshop designed to help patients tell their unique stories.

There are few spaces available for community members and clinicians interested in advancing shared decision making in healthcare. This workshop is free, and lunch will be provided. Registration is required.

The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) was established in 1974 and is a leader in healthcare, education and innovation. Located in Asheville, MAHEC serves a 16-county region in Western North Carolina. It is the largest Area Health Education Center in North Carolina, which evolved to address national and state concerns with the supply, retention and quality of health professionals. MAHEC’s mission is to train the next generation of healthcare professionals for Western North Carolina through quality healthcare, innovative education, and best practice models that can be replicated nationally. For more information on MAHEC, visit