Choosing Wisely® Toolkit
5 QUESTIONS to Ask Your Doctor Before You Get Any Test, Treatment or Procedure
Some medical tests and procedures provide little benefit. And, in some cases they may even cause harm.
According to HealthAffairs (2012), Thirty percent of health care spending goes towards ineffective or unnecessary care. That's about 700 billion dollars a year! Talk to your doctor about which medical treatments are right and wrong for you and make sure you end up with the right amount of care - not too much and not too little. Use these tips to help build your doctor-patient relationship.
Use the following 5 QUESTIONS along with the tools and resources to talk to your doctor about which tests, treatments and procedures you need - and which you don't need.
1. Do I really need this test or procedure?
Medical tests help you and your doctor or other health provider decide how to treat a problem. One way to treat problems is with medical procedures. It can be difficult to ask questions when doctors seem to be in a hurry, but your health is important. Asking for more information can save you and your doctor time in the long run.
What You Should Know
Three Health Care Treatments You May Not Need
This real-life example shows that whether you are an employee, patient or caregiver, more care isn't necessarily better care.
Tips for Talking with Your Doctor
It's about building a relationship of trust and working as a team, but sometimes disagreeing with your doctor can be hard. Use these tips to help build your doctor-patient relationship.
Doctors want to hear from you! See how this doctor-patient relationship truly is a team.
2. What are the risks?
Will there be side effects? What are the chances of getting results that aren't correct? Could that lead to more testing or another procedure? Doctors can't read your mind, it's up to you to ask questions about the details and health care professionals will be happy to discuss any issues more in depth.
What You Should Know
Screening Tests: When You Need Them and When You Don't
Screening tests help spot problems early, when they are easier to treat. Sometimes this can improve your health and help you live longer. But, screening tests have risks. So, it's important to know which ones you need and how often you need them.
Want to know more? Click here.
3. Are there simpler, safer options?
Sometimes all you need to do is make lifestyle changes, such as eat healthier foods or exercise more. It can be an easier, less costly way to get healthy! However, the only way to know if changing your lifestyle will help your condition (or prevent conditions you may be predisposed to) is to speak with your doctor.
What You Should Know
Living Life to the Fullest: Building Healthy Habits
These healthy habits can be combined with any lifestyle changes your doctor recommends. They can ease ailments or even help them disappear completely.
When to Say 'Whoa!' to Your Doctor
A guide to common tests and treatments you probably don't need.
4. What happens if I don't do anything?
Ask if your condition might get better- or worse- if you don't have the test or procedure right away. This is important information for you to know.
What You Should Know
More Equals Better? Not When it Comes to Your Health
Help employees understand the basics of health care, appropriate use of services and quality.
5. How much does it cost?
Save money by asking if there are less-expensive tests, treatments or procedures, what your insurance may cover, and about generic drugs instead of brand-name drugs.
What You Should Know
Ten Ways to Reduce Your Drug Costs
Find out how to reduce your drug costs in this short article.
Confused by premiums, deductibles and out of pocket maximums? Let's clear things up with these short videos.
Enrollment Assistance Tools & Resources
Consumer Reports has created FREE enrollment assistance tools and resources to help consumers who are trying to use their health coverage or shopping for new health coverage. The handouts and worksheets explain key health insurance terms and help you understand how those terms apply to you.
Visit Consumer Reports to view, download or print the materials.
HealthAffairs. (2012, December 13). Health Policy Brief. Retrieved from HealthAffairs: http://healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief_pdfs/healthpolicybrief_82.pdf
Choosing Wisely Utah's Top 5*:In Utah, we are working to advance the ABIM Foundation's national Choosing Wisely campaign, created to help patients and healthcare professionals work together to make "wise" choices about care. This partnership between HealthInsight, medical providers, employers, consumers, and health systems is focusing on raising awareness around five common procedures and tests that are unnecessary, and provide little value to patients, in most cases:
1. Antibiotics for head and chest colds caused by a virus in childrenIf your child has a sore throat, cough, or runny nose, you might expect the doctor to prescribe antibiotics. But most of the time, children don't need antibiotics to treat a respiratory illness. In fact, antibiotics can do more harm than good. Click here to find out why.
2. Imaging (CT scan or MRI) for headaches that occur without any other major symptomsMany people who experience severe headaches want a CT scan or MRI to see if they're caused by a brain tumor or other serious problem. But most of the time neither test is necessary. Click here to find out why.
3. Routinely prescribing antibiotics or an x-ray for mild or moderate sinus infectionsMillions of people are prescribed antibiotics each year for sinusitis, a frequent complication of the common cold, hay fever, and other respiratory allergies. In fact, 15 to 21 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions for adults in outpatient care are for treating sinusitis. Unfortunately, most of those people probably don't need the drugs. Click here to find out why.
4. Imaging tests for back pain in the first six weeks of symptomsBack pain can be excruciating. So it seems that getting an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to find the cause would be a good idea. But that's usually not the case, at least at first. Click here to find out why.
5. CT scans as an initial step for evaluating minor head injuries in childrenMinor head injuries occur commonly in children and adolescents. Approximately 50% of children who visit hospital emergency departments with a head injury are given a CT scan, many of which may be unnecessary. Click here to find out why.
*We had 395 survey completions from 140 organizations to develop Choosing Wisely Utah's Top 5 areas of focus.
How can physicians and patients have the important conversations necessary to ensure the right care is delivered at the right time? Choosing Wisely® aims to answer that question.
Read more on this initiative
30% of health care spending is wasted on unnecessary services, including some that may not improve people's health!
An initiative of the ABIM Foundation, Choosing Wisely is focused on encouraging physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders to think and talk about medical tests and procedures that may be unnecessary, and in some instances can cause harm. Visit www.choosingwisely.org to find out more.
Recognizing that patients need better information, Consumer Reports is developing patient-friendly materials and is working with consumer groups to disseminate them widely. For more information, visit consumerhealthchoices.org
HealthInsight recently received a grant from the ABIM Foundation to advance the Choosing Wisely® campaign. Support for this program comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Ways to Get Involved
- Come to our UPV meetings (Utah Partnership for Value)
- Come to one of our upcoming Town Hall meetings (more information coming soon)
- Distribute Choosing Wisely materials (see Resources tab)
- Email us with your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Consumer Reports Health - In Depth: Antibiotics
- 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Get Any Test, Treatment, or Procedure
- Antibiotics for a sore throat, cough, or runny nose
- Imaging tests for lower-back pain
- CT scans for children with head injuries
- Imaging tests for headaches
- Treating sinusitis
- Choosing Wisely Campaign Presentation by David Shute
- Choosing Wisely wallet card
- Choosing Wisely at Intermountain - Adult
- Choosing Wisely at Intermountain - Pediatric
- Employer Toolkit
- The ABIM Foundation's Medical Professionalism Blog
- Training medical providers to deliver high value care-ACP tools
- Avoid Unnecessary Treatments in the ER: A discussion with the doctor can help you make the best decision.
Early Childhood Resources
The Utah Health Resource Guide contains information that consumers can use to make informed decisions about where to go for health care and how to interact with health care providers. It includes:
- A chart of community resources and contact information directing consumers to each partner organization
- A visual checklist on when to visit an emergency room versus an urgent care center
- A list of low-cost clinics and urgent care centers in the West Valley City area with hours, contact information and languages spoken
- A list of nurse, pharmacy, emergency and health care program helplines
- Choosing Wisely articles and helpful guidance for interacting positively with doctors
This one pager includes Choosing Wisely’s 5 QUESTIONS to Ask Your Doctor Before Any Test, Treatment or Procedure with empty space to write in the contact information for an enrollment assistor, primary care provider and insurance plan carrier. It can be printed as a refrigerator magnet and placed on your refrigerator for frequent viewing and easy access to important health contacts.
Use the 5 questions to talk to your doctor about which tests, treatments, and procedures you need - and which you don't need.
When children need them—and when they don’t
Note: You can print these materials for your own use.
Questions/Comments? Please contact Michelle Carlson at email@example.com or 801-892-6646.
Utah Campaign in the News
- Professionals unite for health care efficiency, Utah Valley University Review - 4/12/2014
- My view: Is more always better? Not in health care, Deseret News Op-Ed feat. board member Brian Jackson - 3/27/2014
- Health Campaign Encourages Utahns to Question Their Doctors, KUER, featuring board member Alan Ormsby - 3/27/2014
- Open houses hope to help Utahns make wise health care choices, Fox13 TV, feat. board members Robin Betts and Saskia Spiess - 3/23/2014
- Utahns warned: Unneeded medical tests do more harm than good, Salt Lake Tribune featuring panelists Alan Ormsby and Wayne Cannon - 3/27/2014
- Choosing Wisely Utah, KUED TV, feat. board member David Clark - 3/25/2014
- Univision TV news story in Spanish - 3/26/2014
- The Hinckley Institute Radio Hour, KCPW: Live at Hinckley Forum - 4/9/2014
- Group wants to educate public about unnecessary procedures, KTVX, featuring board member Jennifer Dailey - 3/26/2014
- Group encourages wisdom in health care, Provo Daily Herald - 4/9/2014
- Study shows many health care decisions not wise, Daily Herald - 4/8/2014
- Choosing Wisely Press Release
Hinckley Institute Radio Hour: Healthcare Panel - When Less Is More, KCPW.org - 4/9/2014