‘Choosing Wisely’ Helps Patients and Providers Change Patterns

‘Choosing Wisely’ Helps Patients and Providers Change Patterns

Mark Wendling, MD

Family Medicine, Pennsylvania

Choosing Wisely is about changing patterns. Patients have patterns. Children have patterns. Families have patterns. Doctors and nurses have patterns. And changing patterns is never easy for anyone. But the Choosing Wisely content is safe, and it’s something that all of us can use to change our patterns.

With Choosing Wisely, you have all of these medical specialty societies coming up with recommendations that are evidence-based, and there are materials that are consumer-facing to go along with it. To us, it was a simple decision to move forward with it. It was something we all agreed with and something that we saw could help our patients and also ourselves as healthcare providers.

I always want my patients to be well-informed. When I buy a car, I always look at Consumer Reports to learn about items such as safety, price, and quality. And when my patients come in with questions about their health, I want them to have looked at the relevant Consumer Reports materials on Choosing Wisely so that they can make similar types of decisions. It just makes sense, and it’s a way for us to get aligned and have a good conversation.

A few weeks ago, a patient came in to see me. He had a cold and had heard about overprescribing of antibiotics and Choosing Wisely. He was pretty sure he didn’t need antibiotics and that he’d be OK without them, but he just wanted to be sure. He wanted validation of his decision, and I gave it to him. It was a win-win situation.

Another win-win situation happened when one of our internists met with a breast cancer patient who was five years out from her diagnosis. She was still getting CT scans every six months, though there was no medical evidence for her to continue doing this. So, at a follow-up appointment, the patient talked to one of our oncologists about the Choosing Wisely recommendation, and they looked at it and discussed the corresponding brochure from Consumer Reports. The patient took it home, read it through again, and then called back and said that she agreed and realized she really didn’t need all of the extra imaging tests that she was getting.

In addition to the patient benefiting by this – less exposure to radiation, fewer trips to the hospital for testing, and a decreased chance of diagnosing an “incidentaloma” – our oncologists met and changed their workflow, so that future patients who met these same criteria would not be exposed to unnecessary imaging. This was a huge win-win, because with the success of the conversations that this patient had with her internist and oncologist, the patterns and discussions between future patients and oncologists will change.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with this healthcare provider and does not endorse products or services.