INTRODUCTION: Effective communication between patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) is important to enhance outcomes in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, in practice, patients often report a disconnect in communication. Communication tools to aid patient-HCP communication have a long history of use in many chronic conditions. For example, symptom diaries have been shown to enhance outcomes in cancer, headache and sleep disorder management. MS in the 21st Century, a Steering Group of HCP specialists and patients with MS (PwMS), has created two communication tools designed for use by both patients and their HCPs.
METHODS: The Steering Group first identified prominent issues in patient-HCP communication through group discussions and survey data. Following this, a series of workshops led to the development of two communication tools as potential solutions to these identified issues in communication.
RESULTS: The two most prominent issues identified were HCP time constraints during appointments and the misalignment of patient and HCP priorities-the communication tools developed through the workshops were created to address these. The "myMS priorities" tool [see supplementary materials] is designed to maximize the use of consultation time while the "myMS commitments" tool [see supplementary materials] aims to improve patient-HCP shared decision-making.
CONCLUSIONS: The MS in the 21st Century Steering Group adopted a broad, iterative and collaborative approach in the development of these tools to help ensure they would be as useful as possible to both HCPs and PwMS. These tools have been developed through shared patient-HCP expertise and are based on existing tools in other therapy areas as well as a review of the existing literature and data from MS in the 21st Century Steering Group surveys. The next steps will focus on the validation of these tools through testing them in real-world environments and clinical trials.
FUNDING: Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.