Choosing Wisely Makes Society Members Champions

June 23, 2017
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Helping patients make wise choices about their care has always been a passion for Society members such as David Smith, MD, CMD, (at left) and Anuj Bhatnagar, MD, CMD. Recently, their efforts regarding this garnered them recognition as Choosing Wisely® Champions. The Champions program is designed to recognize clinicians who have gone the extra mile to advance the ideals of the Choosing Wisely campaign by working to reduce overuse and unnecessary tests and treatments in medicine.

Launched in 2012 by the ABIM Foundation, Choosing Wisely is widely recognized across the health care system as a leading effort to reduce overuse and waste. More than 75 medical specialty societies, including the Society, have joined the campaign and published more than 500 tests and treatments they say are overused or unnecessary. Both recipients used the Society’s Choosing Wisely recommendations in their efforts.

Dr. Smith was recognized for his effort to use the Choosing Wisely campaign materials to educate prescribers in his community about the definition of acute urinary tract infections (UTIs) and the use of antibiotics. He wrote a letter to prescribers in his community to educate them about the importance of not prescribing antibiotics in cases of asymptomatic bacteriuria, among other issues related to UTI diagnosis, documentation, and antibiotic usage; and he attached a journal article he coauthored with urology colleagues. This communication was shared with the chief of pharmacy at the community hospital and with every long-term care physician in the community. They all signed the letter, and it was sent to every prescriber in the community to underscore a community-wide approach. “I was particularly proud to see this level of collaboration among competing facilities,” says Dr. Smith. He adds, “This took just a few hours of work my part. It was relatively simple to do, but it had a positive impact. I have not seen this kind of approach implemented before."

Dr. Bhatnagar used Choosing Wisely to address a challenge he faced in a new job fresh out of fellowship training. Working at a PACE [Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly] program, he discovered that urine samples were taken every time a resident was “screaming.” He said, “I sensed an opportunity for education of formal and informal caregivers.” He added, “I conducted a series of nursing education seminars and answered their questions via email or in person, as appropriate,” he says. “Drs. Smith and Bhatnagar urge PALTC practitioners everywhere to embrace Choosing Wisely® and take action accordingly. These kinds of initiatives are absolutely essential in the new world of health care. I am grateful to the Society for recognizing my efforts,” says Dr. Bhatnagar.

The recommendations that the Society has developed are easy to use, as they address the most common issues and concerns regarding interventions for the PALTC patient population—from the use of sliding scale insulin and antipsychotic medications to when to/not to obtain urine cultures and screen for various cancers. Dr. Smith adds, “We need to take these recommendations to quality assurance/quality improvement activities on a broader scale and perhaps even integrate some of them into alternative payment systems to get buy-in from all practitioners.”

The Society will soon open the submission process for the 2018 Choosing Wisely Champions program. Daniel Wolfson, Executive Vice President and COO of the ABIM Foundation, says, “The Champions Program will help share best practices and inspire more organizations and individuals to be involved and to prioritize discussions about treatments and interventions. If we have these conversations, they will help build trust; and that is essential to good physician-patient relationships.” To learn more about the Society’s Choosing Wisely® Champions program eligibility criteria, click here.