Washington State Medical Association and Puget Sound Health Alliance Awarded Grants to Promote Choosing Wisely® Campaign


Organizations to collaborate on educating physicians and consumers on health care overuse

The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the Puget Sound Health Alliance (Alliance) today announced that each organization has been awarded a two-year grant from the ABIM Foundation to promote the Choosing Wisely® campaign in Washington state. The campaign encourages physicians and patients to think and talk about medical tests and procedures that may be unnecessary and in some instances can cause harm. The goal of the grants is to help reduce overuse of care in the region by educating physicians, employers and consumers about Choosing Wisely. The WSMA and the Alliance are two of 21 state medical societies, specialty societies and regional health improvement collaboratives nationwide that were awarded grants.

“More care does not necessarily mean better care,” said Nick Rajacich, MD, president of the WSMA and pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center. “Evidence-based medicine is more than just using clinically proven procedures. Equally important is using the evidence to decide what not to do. WSMA is excited about the opportunity to promote Choosing Wisely because physicians believe the best health care decisions should be made through meaningful conversations with patients.”

“We’re very excited about this opportunity to participate in the Choosing Wisely campaign,” said Mary McWilliams, executive director of the Alliance. “Because reducing overuse is one of the Alliance’s current areas of focus, both in the performance measures that it reports and in its overall strategy to support the transformation of care in the region, the Choosing Wisely campaign will easily fit into the Alliance’s existing conversational framework with physicians, employers and consumers. The WSMA and the Alliance already have a well-established relationship, and we believe our work together on this campaign will leverage the strengths of each organization to the benefit of the other.”

Since Choosing Wisely was launched nearly one year ago, 25 national medical specialty societies have identified 130 tests, procedures or therapies that, based on medical evidence, may be overused or unnecessary. The resulting lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should WSMA and PSHA Awarded Grants to Promote Choosing Wisely Campaign Question” are meant to spark discussion about the need—or lack thereof—for many frequently ordered tests or treatments. In addition, Consumer Reports has developed patient-friendly materials for over 30 tests and procedures covered in the Choosing Wisely campaign. Some highlights include:

  • A chest X-ray before surgery may not always be necessary.
  • Some drugs should rarely be used to treat migraine headaches.
  • Don’t automatically use CT scans to evaluate children’s minor head injuries.
  • Don’t use feeding tubes in patients with advanced dementia.

During the grant period, WSMA and the Alliance will work together to reach out to physicians and consumers to promote conversations about wise care choices. The WSMA has already begun outreach on Choosing Wisely through its Know Your Choices-Ask Your Doctor campaign, which focuses on getting patients the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Expanding Choosing Wisely is a centerpiece of the umbrella campaign, which includes improving end-of-life care, and reducing unnecessary emergency room visits. The statewide education campaign gives patients and physicians tools and encouragement to have meaningful conversations about their care choices.

The Alliance has started discussions with its employer and union trust members about incorporating Choosing Wisely into the Alliance’s consumer engagement campaign, called Own Your Health. The campaign, offered to employees and union trust members, seeks to help consumers better manage their health and health care.

“The WSMA and the Alliance have shown great leadership and commitment to advancing the message that overuse and waste is not good medicine,” said Christine K. Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. “Through the work of all of the grantees we’ll be able to help physicians in local communities across the country be better prepared to engage in conversations with their patients about the care they truly need.”

The grants will run from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2015, and are made possible thanks to generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF also provided support to the ABIM Foundation to share best practices through a Choosing Wisely learning network, and additional funding for Consumer Reports’ efforts to educate consumers about the Choosing Wisely lists.

About The Puget Sound Health Alliance

The Puget Sound Health Alliance, an Aligning Forces for Quality Community, is a non-profit made up of those who provide, pay for and use health care, working to improve quality of care at a price more people can afford. More than 165 organizations have joined the Alliance, including The Boeing Company, Starbucks, Puget Sound Energy, Washington State Health Care Authority, King County and many other employers, physician groups, hospitals, consumer organizations, unions, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, associations and others. A cornerstone of the Alliance work is the Community Checkup, a regional report to the public comparing the performance of clinics and hospitals for basic measures of quality care in the Puget Sound area (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).

About the Washington State Medical Association

The Washington State Medical Association’s vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. The WSMA represents over 9,800 physicians throughout Washington state. For more information about the WSMA, please visit www.wsma.org. For more information on Know Your Choices – Ask Your Doctor, please visit www.Know-Your-Choices.org.

About the ABIM Foundation

The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation, visit www.abimfoundation.org.

Media Contacts

  • Puget Sound Health Alliance, John Gallagher, (206) 454-2957, jgallagher@pugetsoundhealthalliance.org.
  • Washington State Medical Association, Susan Callahan, (206) 794-4706, slc@wsma.org.

Issued March 21, 2013.

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