Leading Physician Organizations Join Forces To Identify and Act on Ways to Reduce Inappropriate Use in Health Care System

Nine medical societies, Consumer Reports and the ABIM Foundation come together for Choosing Wisely, a campaign to identify overuse or misuse of tests or procedures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Contact:
Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5223
mmoriarty@aafp.org

PHILADELPHIA – Recognizing that patients often ask for tests and treatments that are not necessarily in their best interest, and physicians often struggle with decisions about prescribing tests and procedures as a way of covering all possible bases, the ABIM Foundation has joined with nine leading medical specialty societies to develop evidence-based lists of tests and procedures for patients and physicians to question as part of Choosing Wisely™. The goal of this campaign is to help physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders think and talk about overuse or misuse of health care resources in the United States.

Consumer Reports, the nation’s leading expert, independent, nonprofit consumer organization, has also joined the campaign to provide resources for consumers and physicians to engage in these important conversations.

The campaign is part of the ABIM Foundation’s goal of promoting wise choices by clinicians in order to improve health care outcomes, provide patient-centered care that avoids unnecessary and even harmful interventions and reduce the rapidly-expanding costs of the health care system. The lists of Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question is modeled after the successful National Physicians Alliance (NPA) project titled “Five Things You Can Do in Your Practice,” which was funded by the ABIM Foundation in 2009.

As part of Choosing Wisely, each participating specialty society will identify its own list of five common tests or procedures whose use in their profession should be discussed or questioned. The lists will be unveiled in April 2012. The societies were given the following parameters to develop the lists:

  • Each item should be within the specialty’s purview and control;
  • Procedures should be used frequently and/or carry a significant cost; and
  • There needs to be evidence to support each recommendation.

“Physicians play a leading role in addressing problems with our nation’s health care system. That is why the ABIM Foundation is proud to be working with specialty societies that have proactively decided to address some of the most important issues in health care head on,” said Christine K. Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. “By identifying specific procedures or tests that may commonly be ordered, but not always necessary to improving patient care, we’re kicking off an important and overdue conversation about making wise choices in health care. Everyone – providers, patients and others – plays a part in being better stewards of the system’s finite resources.”

Organizations participating in Choosing Wisely 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
  • Consumer Reports

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that up to 30 percent of care delivered in America goes toward unnecessary tests, procedures, medical appointments, hospital stays and other services that may not improve people’s health – and in fact may actually cause harm. If current trends remain unchanged, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services project U.S. health care spending will reach $4.3 trillion and account for 19.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product by 2019.

“For decades, family physicians have worked to ensure high-quality, cost-effective care for our patients,” said Glen R. Stream, MD, MBI, FAAFP, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Our involvement in the Choosing Wisely campaign underscores this commitment. Maintaining ongoing relationships with our patients throughout their lifespan helps us provide the best care possible and significantly decreases the need to order tests and procedures. The comprehensive, integrated care provided through a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) significantly reduces duplication and eliminates unnecessary treatment. It also encourages an open dialogue between physicians and patients, which helps them ‘choose wisely’ when it comes to a treatment plan.”

First announced in March 2011, Choosing Wisely is part of a multi-year effort led by the ABIM Foundation to support and engage physicians in being better stewards of finite health care resources. It is part of the ABIM Foundation’s long history of advancing medical professionalism and supporting similar initiatives. In 2002 the Foundation, along with the American College of Physicians Foundation and European Federation of Internal Medicine, authored Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter. The Physician Charter has as its fundamental principles the primacy of patient welfare, patient autonomy and social justice and articulates professional responsibilities of physicians, including a commitment to improving quality and access to care, advocating for a just and cost-effective distribution of finite resources and maintaining trust by managing conflicts of interest.

To learn more about Choosing Wisely visit www.ChoosingWisely.org(choosingwisely.org).


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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 115,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 214 million office visits each year — nearly 74 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.


To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).