'Choosing Wisely' for the best medical care
10/23/2023 by Denise Dupras, M.D., Ph.D.
It's well known that healthcare has become more and more complex for patients and providers. Each visit may involve multiple decisions about tests and treatments. Which ones give you the benefits you need? What are the potential downsides? How do you know which ones may be unnecessary?
To help patients and clinicians answer these questions and more, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, along with Consumer Reports, launched the Choosing Wisely campaign in 2012. The campaign was designed to encourage discussion and guide decision-making between patients and healthcare clinicians about medical care and how to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful tests, treatments and procedures.
The Choosing Wisely website encourages all patients to ask their healthcare clinicians five questions before they get any test, treatment or procedure.
- Do I really need this test or procedure?
- What are the risks of this test, treatment or procedure? Are there potential side effects or could the results be inaccurate?
- Are there simpler, safer options? For instance, will weight loss help my high blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol?
- What will happen if I don't do anything? Will my condition get worse — or possibly better — if I don't do anything today?
- How much will it cost? Are there less expensive tests, treatments or procedures that will provide the same information? Sometimes you may need to check your insurance for coverage. When you can, choose generic drugs over brand names.
More than 80 medical societies and specialties, including nurses, nurse-midwives, surgery, surgical specialties, pediatrics, chiropractors, genetics, physical therapy, internal medicine and others have participated in this healthcare initiative.
The recommendations of Choosing Wisely are an important way to talk with your healthcare clinician and make informed decisions about your healthcare. Give them a try.
Denise Dupras, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician in Community Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Palliative Care in Rochester, Minn. She received her medical and doctoral degrees at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and completed her residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic Rochester. Her interests include medical education, evidence-based medicine and care of LGBTQIA+ patients.