On Wednesday 29th April, the Alliance attended the Sydney launch of a new campaign, Choosing Wisely Australia.
The Choosing Wisely campaign aims to start a conversation between clinicians, consumers and other health care stakeholders about the value of undergoing certain tests and procedures. The underlying motivation for the campaign is to increase awareness of the problems that can arise from over-testing or over-treatment. In some situations, unnecessary tests can lead to unnecessary, invasive treatment. Undergoing unnecessary treatment can expose consumers to undue risk of harm, emotional stress and financial cost.
The community also pays a high price for over-testing and over-treatment. The more care that is provided unnecessarily, the less money there is to spend on health care for people who really need it, or to improve the quality of care for everyone.
One of the unique features of the Choosing Wisely campaign is that it relies on building a broad consensus among the health sector about what constitutes necessary care. Obviously, what is necessary in any given situation requires clinical judgement and thorough patient assessment. Choosing Wisely does not shy away from the importance of clinical judgment. Instead it promotes the idea that patients, clinicians and their carers should have an open and frank conversation about the benefits and risks of undergoing certain tests and treatments: more care is not always the same as better care. By working closely with medical specialist groups, Choosing Wisely has begun to identify a number of specific tests and procedures that clinicians should think twice about before recommending them.
The implications of Choosing Wisely for rural and remote Australia are not yet clear. For many rural people, the problem is not too much care but not enough! However the cost of undergoing unnecessary care – often in cities far away from home – can be much higher for rural people. The National Rural Health Alliance is strongly supportive of the Choosing Wisely campaign because of its potential to ensure that scarce health resources are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our hope is that over time the campaign will contribute to a fairer distribution of health resources and better outcomes for people in rural and remote Australia.