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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

September 2013

Choosing Wisely: Educating Consumers About Medical Tests 


Empowering consumers to make good health care choices — that’s part of our mission here at Harvard Pilgrim and it’s the central goal of the national Choosing Wisely® initiative. Choosing Wisely encourages physicians and patients to engage in conversations about the overuse of certain tests and procedures, supporting doctors in helping patients make informed and effective health care choices.

To date, more than 54 leading medical specialty societies and 17 consumer groups participate in Choosing Wisely. Beginning this month, more than 30 medical specialty societies are releasing new lists of commonly ordered tests and procedures that physicians and patients should discuss and consider carefully because they aren’t always necessary and could be harmful.  These lists build on an existing library of more than 120 tests and procedures that require close scrutiny.

Each “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” list includes specific evidence-based recommendations for physicians and patients to discuss, as well as details on when tests and procedures may be appropriate and the methodology used in creating these guidelines. Existing topics include: allergy tests, bone density tests, scheduled early delivery of babies, use of antibiotics, colonoscopy, imaging tests, end-of-life cancer care, heart tests before surgery, and more. Click here to view all the lists on the Choosing Wisely website.

In addition, as part of a regional pilot program, Maine Quality Counts has launched Choosing Wisely in Maine, which will bring the Choosing Wisely tools to providers and health systems in Maine. Harvard Pilgrim is a member of the Maine Quality coalition, which is aimed at improving health and access to care in Maine and promoting the delivery of high-quality care.

Choosing Wisely in Maine is focused on several major strategies: building public awareness, engaging providers and consumers, testing additional methods for implementing Choosing Wisely recommendations through a set of provider pilots, and identifying areas to engage patients in the visit. For more on the Maine program, visit the Choosing Wisely in Maine website.

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Eric H. Schultz,
President and Chief Executive Officer

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