Are You Choosing Wisely?

If you’re living with a chronic health condition, it’s likely you’re a frequent consumer of healthcare services.   When I was a child in the mid 20th c., doctors asked few questions, were supposed to tell us what was wrong, and we expected a prescription to fix it.  By 1980, when I was diagnosed with my first chronic illness, multiple sclerosis, I’d read Our Bodies/Our Selves but not much had really changed in the patient/doctor roles. 

Over the past decade, however, there’s been a growing cry, almost a scream now, for patient engagement. 

Actually, I think what we need is PatientConsumer/HealthcareProvider Engagement.

In my experience and from what I hear from clients and readers, too often an ineffective relationship with healthcare providers puts massive roadblocks in our way.  It makes it even harder to live as successfully as possible.  This doesn’t have to be the case but change requires new ideas and hard work.

Here’s the good news. Choosing Wisely®  is a national campaign developed by the ABIM Foundation and supported by leading medical specialty societies to help guide conversations between patients and clinicians about whether a medical test or procedure treatment is truly necessary for the patient.  Watch this video to learn more.

The reality is that physicians often struggle with decisions about prescribing tests and procedures as a way of covering all possible bases and trying to be respond to patient’s requests and even demands.  Patients want to get better and too often believe that we need, even deserve, every test and treatment available.  

But what happens when these aren’t in our best interest? Physicians and patients need to have conversations that focus on using the most appropriate tests and treatments, and avoiding care whose harm may outweigh the benefits.

This campaign encourages patients (the experts in their own experience) and healthcare providers (the experts in diagnosis and treatment) to take a moment to pause, question and have a discussion about a course of treatment in an informed way.  

As a member of the Consumer Health Council of Massachusetts Health Quality Partners, I’m proud of the leadership role that MHQP is taking to advance Choosing Wisely.  In Massachusetts, as in other states in the U.S., the health care system and payment reform are changing the way we give, get, and pay for care.  This campaign gives tools to patients and providers to have the critical  conversations so they can work together to make wise decisions about when tests or treatments are helpful and when they are not.  This win/win supports better, more affordable care for patients and families.

Choosing Wisely can also support physicians and patients in conversations about what care is truly best, and more information and resources can be found at   

I’m delighted that Choosing Wisely gives patients and providers the tools we need to have these critical conversations.   Are you?  What do you think? 


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