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The Medical Professionalism Blog

Choosing Wisely®: Continuing Conversations Between Physicians and Patients About Resource Use

In April 2012, the ABIM Foundation, Consumer Reports and nine courageous medical specialty societies launched the Choosing Wisely®campaign by announcing lists of tests and procedures that were prone to overuse and should be discussed between physicians and patients.

Today, I’m proud to share that 17 societies are releasing new lists, totaling 90 new things that may be overused, and in some cases, could cause harm.

It’s amazing to think that it’s only been 10 months since the first set of lists were announced. Much has happened since last April, including:

  • The publishing of more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals citing Choosing Wisely and recommendations from participating specialty societies. Nearly 300,000 patients and physicians have visited choosingwisely.org to access information from specialty societies and Consumer Reports, and the nine specialty societies that announced lists in April have reached more than 400,000 physicians with information about the campaign.
  • The Foundation was awarded a grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance Choosing Wisely. This grant will fund the creation of committees among members of national medical specialty societies, state medical societies and regional health improvement collaboratives to raise awareness of potential overuse of medical care and stress the importance of conversations between physicians and patients about appropriate care. The grant will also strengthen Consumer Reports’ efforts to produce and disseminate plain-language information about overuse. 
  • To help educate physicians on the recommendations, Medscape worked with the original nine specialty societies to create a series of 14 articles throughout the year, reaching nearly 100,000. As the year drew to a close, Medscape featured the Choosing Wisely campaign in its series, “The Year in Medicine: News That Made a Difference.” In addition, the campaign was also recognized by Medscape as a Primary Game Changer, and an article developed in conjunction with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology titled “Choosing Wisely: 5 Don’ts in Allergy and Asthma Testing” was the most read features article by allergists in 2012.
  • The Foundation created a Health System Leaders Network, consisting of leaders from health systems who have expressed interest in learning more about Choosing Wisely and sharing ideas for applying the campaign’s recommendations in their institutions. Approximately 30 leaders are involved from systems such as Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente and the University of California. Intermountain Healthcare recently shared its own efforts to disseminate information about Choosing Wisely to its physicians.
  • Working with Consumer Reports, the National Business Coalition on Health and Pacific Business Group on Health developed a toolkit with articles, tip sheets and other resources for employers to help promote good health care choices and offer resources to their employees to facilitate informed conversations with their doctors.
  • Drexel University College of Medicine is working with the ABIM Foundation and specialty societies to create interactive learning modules to enhance physician-patient communication skills. These modules, based on the successful “DocCom” platform, will be available in spring 2013.
  • The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) launched the “Know Your Choices – Ask Your Doctor” campaign, a statewide campaign to promote patient-centered health initiatives, including Choosing Wisely, and enhance the physician-patient relationship. The WSMA disseminates information about Choosing Wisely through its website, e-mail blasts to its members and in op-eds, among others.
  • The University of Nebraska Medical Center created a video featuring practicing physicians discussing the importance of the campaign and ways in which they hope to put the recommendations from the specialty societies in to practice.

Through Choosing Wisely, we’re beginning to see the engagement of both physicians and consumers. We’re also beginning to see delivery systems, practices and community initiatives advancing the principles of the campaign and put recommendations in practice. I believe Choosing Wisely has helped create more thoughtful public conversation about appropriate care and helped move the nation away from the inflammatory language of ‘rationing’ and ‘death panels.’

Later this year, 15 societies—including several who have already released a list—will announce new lists of things physicians and patients should question. Continuing these important conversations about avoiding waste and unnecessary care is what the Choosing Wisely campaign is all about and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this effort.

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