Have you ever prescribed stress ulcer prophylaxis therapy to patients at low risk for gastrointestinal complications? Have you ever repeated CBC or chemistry testing in the face of clinical and lab stability? Have you once or twice ordered bronchodilators for children with bronchiolitis?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you might want to reconsider some of your practices. That’s the message hospitalist leaders have for adult and pediatric HM practitioners interested in curbing wasteful healthcare spending.
SHM has joined the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign, a multiyear effort to spark national dialogue about waste in the healthcare system and the kinds of common treatments that doctors and patients should think twice about before deciding to pursue. Ad hoc subcommittees of SHM’s Hospital Quality and Patient Safety Committee created lists of five adult and five pediatric treatments that hospitalists and their patients should question. Those lists were shared alongside 15 other medical specialty societies at a Feb. 21 news conference in Washington, D.C.
Choosing Wisely (www.choosingwisely.org) has been recognized by the professional and consumer media in a big way, says Daniel Wolfson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the ABIM Foundation, which is affiliated with but distinct from the American Board of Internal Medicine (www.abim.org). “The conversation about overuse is now on the table, and people recognize that it’s an important subject to talk about—without the kind of hysterics that we’ve seen previously around, for example, rationing,” he says. “We’re talking about treatments that are not beneficial and potentially are harmful to patients … things that are ordered for many patients when the benefit does not exceed the risk. These are not absolutes; there are times when a treatment might be indicated because of a certain history or clinical finding. But be clear on what those circumstances are.”
SHM is excited to be a partner in the Choosing Wisely campaign, says Gregory Maynard, MD, MSc, SFHM, senior vice president of SHM’s Center for Healthcare Improvement and Innovation. With its broad professional and consumer outreach and emphasis on informing and engaging the consumer, the Choosing Wisely effort meshes well with the center’s QI and patient safety goals.
“We acknowledge that there is waste in our system. We also believe that if you have an engaged, empowered patient, together you will make better choices, have less waste, and probably also reduce costs,” Dr. Maynard says.
Developing SHM’s “think twice” lists under a tight deadline was a challenge, says John Bulger, DO, FACP, SFHM, chief quality officer at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., and chair of the adult committee. It was especially difficult trying to encourage the broadest possible input from experts in the field. SHM board and committee members were asked for suggested treatments that should be targeted as wasteful, and a preliminary list of 100 was grouped, whittled down, and sent to SHM members to vote on. The committee conducted two blind votes and sent a list of seven recommendations to the SHM board, which made the final choices for submission to the ABIM Foundation.
“The ABIM Foundation has fairly strict guidelines for Choosing Wisely,” Dr. Bulger says. The process was meant to be transparent and well documented, and the SHM committees will publish an article in the Journal of Hospital Medicine describing how its lists were compiled. Choices were to be made based on the evidence for treatments that lie within the specialty’s purview. “Because our practice is so diverse, you can find many core treatments that hospitalists impact on a daily basis and that are unique to the work of hospital medicine,” Dr. Bulger adds.