Coalition of leading health care organizations receive national grant to expand Choosing Wisely® program to eliminate wasteful and potentially harmful care


Washington Health Alliance, Washington State Medical Association, Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services will partner on initiative

SEATTLE (June 18, 2015) – A coalition of leading health care organizations in the state today announced that it received a 34-month grant from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation to expand work on Choosing Wisely®, a national initiative that encourages clinicians and patients to discuss which medical tests and procedures may be unnecessary for their condition, and in some instances, can cause harm. The Washington Health Alliance (Alliance) and the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), both previous recipients of Choosing Wisely grants, will continue to partner on efforts to reduce wasteful – and potentially harmful – care.  Joining them on the new grant will be Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services, both of which will undertake bold efforts to significantly reduce the overuse of antibiotics for acute upper respiratory viral infections, imaging for uncomplicated headaches, and overly frequent Pap tests for women.

The grant will build on the work of the Washington State Choosing Wisely Task Force, which is co-sponsored by the Alliance, WSMA and the Washington State Hospital Association and consists of physician leaders from 22 of the largest health care organizations in the state. The Task Force had previously issued the nation’s first statewide report measuring select Choosing Wisely recommendations, based upon specifications developed by the Task Force and drawing upon the Alliance’s claims database of 3.9 million people in Washington state.

“We are very excited to join with our partners to expand the groundbreaking work of Choosing Wisely in Washington state,” said Nancy A. Giunto, executive director of the Alliance. “Because of the collaborative efforts and hard work of the Task Force, Washington has taken a leadership role in the national campaign to reduce unnecessary care and potential harm to patients.”

“Sometimes conducting another test is not the answer. Choosing Wisely is about doing the right thing for patients and avoiding care that could do harm,” said Brian Seppi, MD, president of the WSMA. “It’s about open communication between physicians and their patients and improving patient outcomes. Our organizations have already done great work in this area and we look forward to expanding those efforts.”

Under the grant, Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services will undertake multiple system changes to reduce overuse in three areas: antibiotics for upper respiratory viral infections, imaging for uncomplicated headaches and overly frequent Pap tests for women. The overall effort, called the Change Three Things initiative, will require the two health systems to rely upon clinical data to establish a baseline and monitor progress and to offer providers the tools and support necessary to implement changes in their practices.

“Group Health is thrilled to continue to be an incubator for Choosing Wisely in Washington. This grant will help support better conversations between patients and their doctors. Providing patients with choices about how they are treated should improve quality outcomes and ultimately create a more affordable health care system,” said Dr. Matt Handley, Medical Director for Quality, Group Health Cooperative.

“We are excited to partner with Group Health, WHA and WSMA to further improve the health and well-being of the patients we serve,” said Dr. Christopher Dale, Medical Director of Quality and Value at Swedish Medical Group. “We will work with our caregivers and patients to help patients make the best decisions possible for their health. For example, this may involve working to decrease the use of antibiotics in conditions where they might not be appropriate, like in patients with a cold or the flu.”

The goal of the grant is to demonstrate success within Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services and then spread their learnings to other medical systems around the state. The WSMA will work closely with the other grant partners to develop and deliver clinical education both within the selected health systems, as well as more broadly across the state. To support the work being done by clinicians, the Alliance will engage consumers, purchasers and payers to encourage their alignment with the Change Three Things initiative. The Alliance will also continue to support public statewide reporting of Choosing Wisely measures using its claims database.

The Choosing Wisely grant program, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, brings together health care organizations from across the country that have built strong multi-stakeholder alliances to focus on implementation of at least three Choosing Wisely recommendations. Since the campaign was launched in 2012, more than 100 national, regional and state medical specialty societies, health collaboratives and consumer groups have released more than 70 lists of tests or procedures they say are overused or inappropriate in their specialty, and that clinicians and patients should discuss.

About the Washington Health Alliance

As a purchaser-led, multi-stakeholder collaborative with more than 185 participants, the Washington Health Alliance is committed to leading health system change in Washington state. The Alliance has a bold vision: physicians, other providers and hospitals in the region will achieve the top 10 percent in performance nationally in the delivery of quality, evidence-based care and in the reduction of unwarranted variation, resulting in a significant reduction in medical cost trends. To achieve this goal, it will require the aligned efforts of those who give, get and pay for health care. A cornerstone of the Alliance’s work is the Community Checkup, a regional report to the public comparing the performance of clinics and hospitals for basic measures of quality care (

About the Washington State Medical Association

The WSMA represents nearly 10,000 physicians and physician assistants throughout Washington state. The WSMA’s vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. For more information about the WSMA please visit

About Group Health
Group Health is a unique health care system linking care delivery and insurance coverage in order to achieve one goal – affordable, quality health care for all.  Our innovative approach has made us a national leader in a new era of health care reform, and our goals have remained the same since we began serving patients in 1947. As a nonprofit organization, Group Health helps nearly 600,000 patients throughout Washington state achieve better health.  Our focus on preventive care, combined with medical education, a charitable foundation and a nationally recognized research institute, advances health in the community in a way no one else can.  Group Health supports events, programs, and organizations that share this commitment to strengthening health in our communities.  For more information about Group Health, visit

About Swedish
Founded in 1910, Swedish is the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group, a network of more than 100 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. In 2014, Swedish provided more than $133 million in community benefit in Western Washington. For more information, visit, or

Media Contacts

Washington Health Alliance
John Gallagher

Leave a Reply