Utah consumers are being asked to help eliminate unnecessary healthcare by questioning their doctors. A campaign called Choosing Wisely Utah is holding public discussions to encourage conversations between patients and physicians about avoiding treatments that add little or no benefit. The first of these discussions with health experts is at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.
One of the experts on the panel is Alan Ormsby, State Director for AARP Utah. Ormsby says up to 30 percent of healthcare in the U.S. is unnecessary, and that means wasted money.
“Healthcare costs in this country are over 2 trillion dollars a year. So if 30 percent of that is unnecessary, you’re talking about a whole lot of money – 600 billion plus dollars,” Ormsby says. “That money could be better spent on services that really do matter and really do make a difference.”
The Choosing Wisely Utah campaign received a grant from the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. It’s focused on spreading awareness about some common treatments that are often inappropriately prescribed or overused, including antibiotics and imaging tests. Ormsby says the idea is to encourage patients to take responsibility for their care and ask questions.
“Consumers need to know that there are medical tests that may or may not be that helpful, and that it’s OK to have that dialogue with your doctor, to say is this really a necessary medical intervention that you’re proposing? Is there something else we can do? What if we did nothing,” Ormsby says.
Doctors are also being armed with tools to help inform their patients, like an information sheet on why antibiotics are not recommended to treat a virus. Ormsby says these dialogues will result in better care and reduced costs. In addition to the panel discussion at the University of Utah, there is another discussion scheduled at Utah Valley University on April 7th. These events are free and open to the public.