WASHINGTON: Nine national medical groups have teamed with GYMR Public Relations to launch the “Choosing Wisely” campaign, which encourages consumers and physicians to have conversations about whether procedures are truly necessary.
Groups like the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Cardiology identified five commonly used tests or procedures they say should be questioned and discussed.
The groups cited imaging tests such as CT scans, unnecessary cardiac workups, repeated colonoscopies, and prescribing antibiotics in some situations. The media has noted a recommendation from the organizations that physicians should not offer chemotherapy for the sickest cancer patients.
“Fixing what ails the American healthcare system requires significant action from all stakeholders and ‘Choosing Wisely' is an important step,” said Patrick McCabe, a partner at GYMR.
The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation is spearheading the effort, which it has worked on for 18 months. The campaign is targeting two audiences: physicians and consumers.
While all groups are conducting consumer outreach, they are each contacting their own membership, said Lorie Slass, VP of communications at the ABIM Foundation.
“Having messaging coming from physician to physicians adds the credibility,” Slass said. "Also, it's not an internist telling a radiologist a procedure many not be necessary, it's one of their own.”
Medical societies are also reaching out to their members via targeted emails, academic journals, and association newsletters about the suggestions.
They are targeting consumers through traditional media outreach and press conferences. Outreach efforts for both groups include digital tools like Twitter, blogs, videos, and a microsite.
Consumer Reports is also working to translate the recommendations into common language so patients can better understand what the societies are suggesting. It is disseminating the information to other consumer groups like AARP, Alliance Health Networks, and Leapfrog Group. Each of these organizations has the potential to reach at least 1 million consumers, said John Santa, director of Consumer Reports' Health Ratings Center. It is also planning a series of articles in English and Spanish, he added.
Pre-launch, the biggest challenge was having nine groups approve the central messages of the initiative, Slass explained.
Since its launch, media coverage has mostly been positive, said Slass, who added that some misleading headlines have indicated the cited procedures should never be done, which is untrue. The organizations are only recommending more conversations about and conservative use of the outlined procedures, she added.
“When we've seen inaccuracies, we reach out to those media outlets, and sometimes they're receptive and other times they're not,” Slass said.
Since beginning work on the initiative 18 months ago, The ABIM Foundation has spent $200,000 in communications costs. This includes in-house expenses as well as GYMR's contract, said Slass. A new group of medical societies is expected to release their recommendations of less-than-useful procedures this fall.