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Choosing Wisely Implementation Guide

Welcome to the Choosing Wisely Implementation Guide

Here’s all you need to know to launch your own consumer-facing Choosing Wisely campaign.

Whether you’re talking with your neighbors, co-workers, patients, employees or customers, we have distilled the lessons, learned by others, into a series of easy steps.

Contents of this guide

↓ Starting a campaign
Begin with the 5 Questions.

↓ Tools and techniques: For communities
How to talk with your friends and neighbors about avoiding medical overuse.

↓ Tools and techniques: For health systems
   What to say to your patients, how, where and when.

↓ Tools and techniques: For employers
   Help your workers use their health-care dollars effectively.

↓ Topical themes
Start with the health issues that matter most to you.

↓ Media outreach
   How to get the word out, through traditional and social media.

↓ Additional resources
   Consumer Reports has a lot to offer, and so do our partners and collaborators.

↓ Fine print
Please check the legal terms covering your use of Choosing Wisely materials.

Starting a consumer-facing Choosing Wisely campaign

The most effective and efficient way to start a Choosing Wisely campaign: Start with the fundamentals.

Hang the 5 Questions Poster in waiting rooms and exam rooms, post it on your website and intranet, email it to everyone, or hand out printed copies.

More ways to share the 5 Questions:

Another successful way to reach consumers early in your campaign: Each month, highlight one of the Choosing Wisely topics via e-newsletters, social media, work intranet sites, and more. Consider topics such as overuse of antibiotics for a runny nose as the school year kicks off or overuse of Lyme disease testing in spring and summer.

Be sure to track your results, so you know what works.

Here are some ideas:

  • Number of posters and wallet cards you hung up and/or handed out; number of people who may have seen them.
  • Number of video viewers reached, counted by data from TV stations or estimated amount of patients in the waiting room or employees passing through their lounge while the video was playing.
  • Number of tweets posted, their impressions, and retweets.
  • Open, click-through, and forwarding rates on e-newsletters, social media, and intranet sites.

5 tips for launching a campaign:


Develop a task force with leadership from key organizations.


Engage physicians and other health care providers.


Address barriers early and head-on.


Know your audience’s needs.


Firmly define your goals.

Tools and techniques: For communities

Cultural changes happen one person at a time, and often the best way to raise awareness is through small group discussions. Choosing Wisely can be on the agenda in a living room, conference room, classroom, clinic, church hall, cafeteria, anywhere.

Is more health care better health care? Want to challenge that assumption? Use this small group conversation guide with neighbors, community groups, employees, provider groups, and business leaders to engage in a 90-minute facilitated conversation about what ordinary people can do to change the culture of excess in health care. These tools, from the Baby Boomers for Balanced Health Care, include Handouts and Conversation StartersOrientation for Facilitators, the Facilitator Process Guide, and an Audio Recording Guide to address questions that you might have. There is also a video of a community forum and a video of a small group conversation to give you a sense of these conversations.

Hold town hall meetings to build consumer and community awareness — while also drawing media support. This Town Hall Meeting Action Manual focuses on step-by-step actions for successful Choosing Wisely presentations.

Be sure to track your results, so you know what works.

  • Count how many town halls and conversation groups you held, and how many people attended.
  • Track social and traditional media impressions that result from your town halls and conversation groups.
  • Distribute evaluation forms after your events to learn what works best and where you can improve.
  • Share great stories with us. We’ll help disseminate them.

5 tips for engaging your community:


Partner with community groups and patient advocacy organizations.


Offer incentives for attending events, and/or feature a well-known and respected speaker.


Invite the media to attend.


Invite attendees to share their “aha” realizations.


Make this a movement. Encourage attendees to continue the discussion with other groups.

Tools and techniques: For health systems

The point of care is a particularly effective place to emphasize effective medical choices. Health systems, whether rural community clinics or large urban hospitals, have many opportunities to share Choosing Wisely information with patients.

You might find inspiration and ideas in these successful efforts from around the country.

Be sure to track how many patients you’ve reached, so you know what works.

Here are some ideas:

  • Count how many handouts you’ve distributed and how many posters you’ve hung — and how many patients could have seen them in your waiting and exam rooms.
  • Measure downloads of Choosing Wisely information from your patient portal and website.
  • Count clicks and printouts from your EMR system.
  • Pick a few overused tests, treatments or drugs, and track their change in frequency as your campaign progresses.

5 tips for reaching your patients with this information:


Start small, with “low-hanging fruit” topics, such as overuse of antibiotics or unnecessary C-sections.


Introduce the concepts even before the patients arrive: Email them the “5 Questions” list with their appointment reminder.


Co-brand the “5 Questions” wallet card, and keep a stack at your reception desk so patients are primed to engage in conversation before the exam.


Make the discussions personal and relevant: “Do you know anyone who’s had a test or treatment that they probably didn’t need?”


Engage health care providers in a competitive fashion, tracking which ones share Choosing Wisely materials with their patients most often.

Tools and techniques: For employers

Interested in keeping your employees healthy and happy? Employers, as providers of health benefits, are in a unique position to help employees talk with doctors and other health care providers about the most effective care.

Start out by using the Consumer Reports Making Healthy Choices toolset, including easy-to-read brochures about more than 100 Choosing Wisely topics, short and compelling videos, and an iPhone app. Consider incentivizing employees to watch the video segments.

Include topic-specific information in employee newsletters, such as imaging tests for low-back pain for employees who do heavy lifting, or imaging tests for headaches for employees working near loud machinery. As the school year begins, you may want to share antibiotics for kids with sore throats, coughs and runny noses,  an area of concern for a workforce with young children.

If you have an on-site health clinic, consider handing out the 5 Questions Poster  to each employee who comes in. Also hang the posters in employee cafeterias, lounges, fitness centers, and other high-traffic areas.

Reach employees and retirees via your intranet and social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter.

Get internal buy-in, by letting executives know what it’s in it for them, including happier and healthier employees, higher productivity due to less time away from work, and potential cost savings.

Use teachable moments to share Choosing Wisely, including job-required health exams, clinic visits, health and safety meetings, open enrollment, and retiree meetings.

Here is an example offered by WellOK, the Northeastern Oklahoma Business Coalition on Health: So You Want to Start a Choosing Wisely Campaign.

Be sure to track how many employees you’ve reached. Here are some ideas:

  • Count how many newsletters you send out with Choosing Wisely information, how many employees or retirees receive them, and how often an e-newsletter is forwarded.
  • How many health and safety or retiree meetings include Choosing Wisely information? How many people attend?
  • How many employees and retirees follow you on social media? How many of them “favorite,” “like,” or forward your posts and Tweets?

5 tips for sharing Choosing Wisely at work:


Skeptical employees? Emphasize the source of Choosing Wisely brochures: Consumer Reports and national medical specialty societies.


For workers with high-deductible plans, point out that Choosing Wisely advice can help them spend their own money most effectively.


A great time to pursue this campaign: during the open enrollment period.


Focus on the medical topics most relevant to your workforce.


Encourage workers to take information home to share with their friends and families.

Topical themes

Interested in reaching a certain demographic or promoting a certain topic with your Choosing Wisely campaign? Rather than sharing an overwhelming amount of campaign materials with your audience, try to segment it by topic and audience. This will make it easier to deliver the message.

Consider starting with antibiotic overuse, a popular topic in the media and one that’s easy to understand and make immediate shifts in behavior.

Our antibiotics hub has all of the Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely brochures, videos, and posters about antibiotic overuse, Consumer Reports magazine articles, and more. You can also use these Choosing Wisely antibiotics tweets to spread your message.

A useful topic for older adults is caregiving and end-of-life information. On our caregiving hub, you’ll also find topics specifically relevant for this demographic and their caregivers. You can also use these Choosing Wisely caregiving tweets to spread your message.

Pregnant women frequently look for evidence-based, concrete information so that they can give their baby the healthiest start possible. Share information from our safe pregnancy hub, and consider using these tweets.

Before surgery, people have questions about which medical tests they may need. They can get answers to that on this hub, and you can share the information via social media.

Want to share information about which screening tests people need, and which ones they should think twice about? This screening hub will give you that information, and here are the tweets.

Other popular topics are overuse of Pap tests and imaging for low-back pain and headachesFor a full list of topics, to go our catalog or use the search box on that page.

Be sure to track how many people you’ve reached so you know what works.

Here are some ideas:

  • Count how many newsletter articles you’ve sent out, how many people received them, their click-through, and forward rates.
  • Measure click-throughs, “likes” and “favorites” on social media.
  • Request feedback. Ask how people are using the information you’re sharing.
  • Share great stories with us. We’ll help disseminate them.

5 tips for segmenting your messaging by theme and demographic:


Send out relevant Choosing Wisely materials to your audiences …

  • when topics become popular in the news and are already being discussed in casual conversations.

Use the Choosing Wisely topics geared toward seniors …

  • at retiree benefit meetings and community and civic events.
  • the screening hub with employees during open enrollment, as people are planning ahead for health costs in the coming year.

Consider which topics are most relevant for your audience.

Media outreach

Share stories about the ways you’re helping people talk with their doctors. These can be great opportunities for connecting with traditional and social media. Local newspapers and radio and TV stations are frequently looking for positive health stories, with a local perspective and concrete ideas on on what people can actually do. Social media engagement is a great opportunity to reach a younger generation and create viral messaging.

Start out by making contact with the media. Ask if your Board or Advisory Group members already have contacts. Email a local health journalist. Write and submit opinion pieces to your newspapers, with links to the 5 Questions poster. Encourage conversation and cultural shift.

Engage in social media. Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook for ideas on what to retweet or post. Use this list of 200+ consumer-friendly Choosing Wisely tweets, all linking back to patient-facing materials created by Consumer Reports. Hire a social media intern.

Have a social media success story? Share it here and we’ll share it even more widely.

Be sure to track how many people you reach via social and traditional media.

Here’s how:

  • How many followers do you have on social media? How many of them “favorited,” “liked,” or forwarded your posts and Tweets?
  • How many times did you post on social media, and how much attention did that garner? Track your analytics with a platform such as HootSuite.
  • How many times did your story appear in a newspaper or on the radio or TV? Ask your media contacts for impressions, which includes newspaper circulation rate (paper and online) and radio listeners and TV viewers during your aired segment.
  • How many people are clicking on your social media links? Use a URL shortener like Bitly to keep count.

5 tips for engaging the media:


Tell a local story about someone in your town, region or community who was affected by Choosing Wisely.


Include endorsements from local figures.


Include a picture in your Tweets and Facebook posts, even if it’s of a Choosing Wisely poster or patient brochure.


Engage readers and viewers by giving them tips to better manage their health and know what questions to ask their doctors.

Additional resources

The Health Impact team at Consumer Reports is able to offer additional resources, as applicable, to Choosing Wisely consumer partners, grantees and others. Details are below, but if you have an idea in mind that’s not listed below, ask and we’ll see what we can do!

Want a co-branded place where your constituents can go to see all of your Choosing Wisely materials? We’ll build, host, and maintain a microsite for you, and will also track its basic analytics, all at no cost to you. Click here for details.

As our schedules permit, we’re able to present about the consumer perspective of the Choosing Wisely campaign at your conferences and meetings, either live or remotely.

If you’re able to secure radio or TV play time, we can “tag” some of our Choosing Wisely public service announcements (PSAs) with your logo, organization’s name, and URL. 

Wikipedia is one of the main places people go online for health information. Interested in learning how you can edit Wikipedia articles to help spread the Choosing Wisely message? Contact Consumer Reports’ Wikipedian-in-Residence.

Go here for the Consumer Reports full list of consumer-facing Choosing Wisely brochures. And go here for the full list of Choosing Wisely recommendations from the ABIM Foundation. Consumer Reports also has content here that you can use from several other health campaigns.

Want help co-branding our 5 Questions poster or our wallet cardSend us your high-res logo, and we’ll take care of the rest.

All of the Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely materials are available at no charge and for wide dissemination among your networks. We create the materials and depend on you to get them into the public and in front of health consumers’ eyes. But, we do have a few rules.

Consumer Reports’ No Commercial Use Policy: Consumer Reports is a nonprofit, independent, unbiased organization. We believe that objective, impartial testing, reviews, and Ratings are critically important for our consumers. Our No Commercial Use Policy prevents the use of our name and information for any promotional or advertising purposes. This provides peace of mind to consumers that the information that they are receiving from us is free of influence, bias, or commercial interference.

Use of Consumer Reports Health Materials and Logo: As a consumer partner with us in the Choosing Wisely campaign, or as an organization wishing to share our consumer-facing materials, below is a list of things that you can do and things that you cannot do.

What You Can Do:

  • Link directly to any of our materials
  • Put our materials on your website, in your newsletters, etc., in their original formats.
  • Ask us for a co-branded microsite and/or to co-brand posters for you.
  • State that you are partnering with Consumer Reports Health. Note that you must have a co-signed partnership agreement with us to make this statement.

What You Cannot Do:

  • Co-brand any materials without our written permission
  • Modify our materials without our written permission
  • Use the Consumer Reports, Choosing Wisely or ABIM Foundation logos without written permission
  • State that Consumer Reports is endorsing your organization.