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Today the ABIM Foundation announced the launch of the Choosing Wisely campaign. The goal of the initiative is to encourage conversations between physicians and patients about the overuse or misuse of tests and procedures that offer little benefit and may sometimes inflict harm.
In an era of increasing health care costs that consume a growing percentage of the nation’s resources coupled with evidence that the U.S. lags behind other advanced nations in delivering quality care, these are important conversations for us to have. The U.S. spends twice per capita what other major industrialized countries spend on health care, yet has an average life expectancy of 78.3 years, placing it 35th in the world.
In this effort, the ABIM Foundation is partnering with nine medical specialty societies, representing more than 376,000 physicians. The Choosing Wisely partners include:
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American College of Cardiology
- American College of Physicians
- American College of Radiology
- American Gastroenterological Association
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- American Society of Nephrology
- American Society of Nuclear Cardiology
Each medical specialty society is developing a list of five common tests or procedures whose necessity in their profession should be questioned and discussed. The resulting lists will be publicly unveiled in April 2012.
Consumer Reports has also joined the campaign and will create resources to help consumers engage in these important conversations.
This campaign aims to promote open and frank conversations about tests and procedures whose potential harms may outweigh their benefits. It’s about improving quality of care by removing those things that don’t bring any value to the patient or physician. Removing waste is improving quality of medical care.
There will be some quarters that may demonize this campaign and infer the “R word” – rationing. Make no mistake on what rationing is: the denial of medical care that provides benefits to the patient. Rationing occurs when people are uninsured and don’t receive the care they need. It occurs when non-English speaking patients are not provided translators in the location they receive care.
The nine specialty societies that have come on board should be applauded for their tremendous leadership and professionalism. The Hippocratic Oath, to which all physicians aspire to uphold, states, “First, do no harm.” Further is the commitment to be trustworthy and put the interest of the patient above all else. These medical societies are standing up for social justice through a fair distribution of resources as set forth in the Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter.
Through Choosing Wisely and the collective efforts of the medical specialty societies and Consumer Reports, I am confident we are taking an important and potentially monumental step toward achieving the Charter’s ideals.
For more information on Choosing Wisely, visit www.choosingwisely.org.
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