Strategies to Avoid 5 Highly Overused Treatments

Leigh Page

July 16, 2013

In This Article

A Growing Trend

Glen Stream, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a family physician in Spokane, Washington, said interest in unnecessary treatments is growing.

"We now have very solid medical evidence now that [some] treatments aren't helpful and can actually harm patients," he said. Also, physicians are concerned that Medicare and other payors may deal with rising healthcare costs by simply cutting everyone's reimbursement, rather than cutting out unnecessary procedures.

The summit follows in the footsteps of the ABIM Foundation's "Choosing Wisely" Campaign, which has prompted many specialty societies to issue lists of 5 unnecessary treatments in their field and make specific, evidence-based recommendations. Primary care organizations published the first lists in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2011.

Dr. Stream said the new summit could be useful to physicians in several ways:

1. To help disseminate the newest research findings. "It takes years to disseminate new research findings," Dr. Stream said. "Everyone is just overwhelmed with the amount of information that is out there. A physician may not get around to reading even the key journals."

2. To help physicians incorporate findings. In many cases, information on overtreatment is not new, but physicians have not yet adopted it in their practices. "There is difference between having read it and incorporating it into your daily practice," he said.

3. To get patients involved. Increasingly, organized medicine is using organizations like the AARP, Consumer Reports, and the March of Dimes to get information about overtreatment out to patients. "This all part of the movement toward shared decision-making with patients," Dr. Stream said.

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