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'Choose Wisely' to Shrink Healthcare Costs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 27, 2013

Again, this will not be easy because the countervailing winds in our consumer culture celebrate uncritical overindulgence and easy remedies.

This week, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation announced that it would grant about $70,000 in funding to each of 21 state medical societies, specialty societies, and regional health collaborative as part of its year-old  Choosing Wisely campaign. The campaign wants to create a dialog between physicians and patients about medical tests and procedures that have been identified by medical specialty societies as either unnecessary, wasteful, or even harmful in some cases.

"What it will do is change the conversation by using shared decision-making between the patient and the provider," says Cally Vinz, vice president of Minnesota's Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, which wants to expand the Choosing Wisely campaign across the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"We also hope to change the perspective of the consumer as they come in by educating them about what they shouldn't be asking for or shouldn't be expecting if it is not high value," Vinz explains.

"Then the provider is comfortable with having a conversation and the health plan isn't covering it in the same way because it is an unnecessary exempt. This goes across the whole continuum from the consumer's expectation to the provider's system that supports him to do the right thing to have the conversation and the healthcare coverage supporting the right kind of testing."

The ABIM Foundation was smart to enlist the support and advice of medical specialty societies. It is heartening to see that these professional medical organizations are dedicated to quality care and want to ensure the right treatment at the right time, even if it means reducing the number of MRIs for lower back pain or fewer antibiotics prescribed for sinusitis.

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