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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6052

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 American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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