Washington State Medical Association Launches Statewide "Know Your Choices - Ask Your Doctor" Campaign

Sep 20, 2012, 14:09 ET from Washington State Medical Association

Initiative to Educate Patients and Foster Doctor/Patient Relationship

SEATTLE, Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) is launching "Know Your Choices – Ask Your Doctor," a statewide campaign to educate patients on important health topics and to enhance the relationship between patient and physician.

Initially the new umbrella campaign will promote three initiatives, the "ER is for Emergencies" campaign to educate patients on the appropriate place to receive health care, end of life resources, and the Choosing Wisely® campaign, a national effort launched by the ABIM Foundation and Consumer Reports to encourage conversations between physicians and patients about the necessity of certain tests and procedures.

"As physicians, quality health care and patient safety are our top concern," said Nick Rajacich, MD, president of the WSMA. "Know Your Choices – Ask Your Doctor is about helping patients be more informed about their care decisions, whether that's getting an MRI scan for lower back pain, understanding there are other choices besides the emergency room when unexpected care is needed, or making informed choices when faced with a serious life-limiting illness. Encouraging meaningful dialogue between physician and patient about their health care choices can lead to better, safer care."

The WSMA has dedicated a section of its website to Know Your Choices – Ask Your Doctor (www.wsma.org/know-your-choices) to serve as a central location for comprehensive information dedicated to furthering health initiatives important to patients in Washington state. The first initiative the WSMA will promote is the Choosing Wisely program to help spark conversations between patients and physicians about the need—or lack thereof—for a number of frequently ordered tests or procedures.

"The Choosing Wisely campaign is a national effort to encourage physicians and patients to talk about what tests and procedures are right for them," said Daniel Wolfson, executive vice president and COO of the ABIM Foundation. "WSMA's Know Your Choices – Ask Your Doctor campaign will help encourage these conversations across the state so that patients can avoid unnecessary care from which they will not benefit, and that could actually cause them harm." 

Nine national specialty societies have signed on to the program and have each identified "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question" that provide specific evidence-based recommendations for conversations on the necessity of various tests and procedures. In 2013 more than twenty specialty societies will announce new lists of tests and procedures that physicians and patients should talk about. (Complete lists available at www.choosingwisely.org.)  

"Evidence-based medicine is more than just using clinically-proven procedures," said Dr. Rajacich. "Equally important is using the evidence to decide what not to do. We are excited to promote this campaign because physicians talking to their patients will be able to carry this message effectively."

Some important questions for patients to discuss with their physician include:

  • Do you need a chest X-ray before surgery?
  • When do you need imaging for lower-back pain?
  • How should you choose a pain reliever when you have kidney disease or heart problems?
  • Is it necessary to take antibiotics for sinusitis?
  • When do you need an EKG and exercise stress test for heart disease?

Consumer Reports has produced numerous patient-friendly materials on many of the questions posed by the participating medical specialty societies. (Full lists can be found at www.consumerhealthchoices.org.)

"Consumer Reports is very excited that WSMA is promoting patient education and helping to improve patient relationships with physicians as part of the Choosing Wisely campaign. The campaign is a great way to help get these important messages about appropriate use of medical tests, treatments, and procedures out to a diverse population, and we are pleased that they will be partnering with us in this initiative," said John Santa, MD, MPH, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

The WSMA is working with the Puget Sound Health Alliance, Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), and other interested parties including local medical specialty societies, to promote the Choosing Wisely program and educate patients about the lists of procedures to discuss with their doctor.

The Washington State Medical Association's vision is to make Washington the best place to practice medicine and to receive care. The WSMA represents over 9,800 physicians throughout Washington state. For more information about the WSMA, please visit www.wsma.org.


SOURCE Washington State Medical Association