Jun 15, 2012
Three different physician events saw national doctor groups calling for less medical care. In a bold and unprecedented announcement, they say doctors need to use clinical evidence to make care decisions. This can help protect patients from unneeded treatment – and costs.
”Until recently, the main framework for thinking about (health care) reform has been one of shortages and disparities. That has begun to shift as patients and providers become more aware of the problem of unnecessary or avoidable care. Efforts to improve care and control costs will not be successful unless policymakers, payers, providers, and patients address the problem of avoidable care,” asserts the New America Foundation article Doing What’s Right For Patients Demands A Culture Change.
- The American Board of Internal Medicine announced a program called Choosing Wisely®. Nine specialist groups each submitted a list of five procedures that patients should think twice before getting. They include heart, lung, cancer and allergy screenings. Other examples:
- CT scans for lower back pain
- Antibiotics for sinus infection
- MRI or CT scans for simple headaches
Eight more medical specialty groups have joined the program and will submit their lists in the fall.
- The American College of Physicians announced a joint project with Consumer Reports to drive a concept they call High Value Healthcare. They will develop materials to explain why more care isn’t always better. The first two patient brochures target:
- Diabetes medication – Clinical evidence shows that low-cost generic metformin is more effective and has fewer side effects for controlling blood sugar than expensive new medications.
- Lower back pain – “Strong evidence” shows that early routine X-ray, CT scan or MRI for low back pain does not help patients, and can lead to further unnecessary care and costs.
- Avoiding Avoidable Care had its first-ever conference in Boston. It focused on shifting public attention away from scare tactics about rationing care to the very real problem of unnecessary care. While the conference is over, the dialogue continues in the blog at Avoidablecare.org.
These events show providers are becoming more aware of the need for health care to be both evidence-based and affordable. This kind of culture shift could have a significant effect on costs in the future.