By Kelly A. Briganti, Editorial Director, G2 Intelligence
In keeping with the national focus on reducing unnecessary medical care and getting the right test to the right patient at the right time, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation awarded a 34-month grant to a group of Washington state health care organizations. The grant will fund efforts in connection with the Choosing Wisely program—”a national initiative that encourages clinicians and patients to discuss which medical tests and procedures may be unnecessary for their condition, and in some instances can cause harm.”
The Washington Health Alliance, the Washington State Medical Association, the Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services received funding for their efforts addressing overuse of antibiotics on viral upper respiratory infections, imaging for uncomplicated headaches and overly frequent Pap tests for women. These efforts are being called the “Change Three Things initiative.”
“Sometimes conducting another test is not the answer. Choosing Wisely is about doing the right thing for patients and avoiding care that could do harm,” said Brian Seppi, MD, President of the Washington State Medical Association, in a press release announcing the grant. “It’s about open communication between physicians and their patients and improving patient outcomes.”
ABIM launched Choosing Wisely in 2012 to help providers and patients work together to avoid duplicative tests and procedures and make better decisions that reduce unnecessary health care utilization. The Choosing Wisely website provides a list of recommendations from various specialty societies that highlight tests and procedures identified as overused. A 2014 Choosing Wisely survey revealed 73% of physicians agree unnecessary testing and treatment is a serious problem, yet 53% will order a test or procedure when a patient insists on it—despite the clinician’s opinion that it is unnecessary. Additionally, 70% of physicians indicated that when they discuss with a patient why a test or procedure could be unnecessary, the patient often declines the service. That finding dovetails with Choosing Wisely efforts to improve communication between clinicians and patients and education of patients about unnecessary testing.