Medical care check list highlights need for informed patients

The finding that 61 tests and treatments common in Australia may be unnecessary or even harmful highlights the need for health consumers to feel confident in asking their health practitioners about their care, says the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.

“Health care needs to be a partnership between clinician and patient to ensure we achieve the best outcomes,” the chairman of the Consumers Health Forum, Tony Lawson said at the launch of the latest NPS Choosing Wisely Australia campaign.

“The Consumers Health Forum looks forward to continuing its partnership with NPS and the medical colleges, to promote a greater focus on partnerships with doctors, a greater role for consumers in primary care and closer integration between clinicians and services,” Mr Lawson said.

The CEO of Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said, “The development away from the ‘doctor knows best’ tradition is more vital than ever given the growing incidence of chronic illness in which often the patient’s experience and knowledge about their condition will be crucial in determining the correct treatment.

“The 61 recommendations from the Choosing Wisely Australia campaign, ranging from end of life care to prescription of medication to children underline the need for deeper interaction between clinician and patient,” Ms Wells said.

“We know already that an engaged patient and an engaging clinician tend to produce better outcomes all round, a healthier result and a happier clinician. Now add Choosing Wisely which paves the way for a deeper interaction between clinician and patient.

“We want to support consumers being in control of their healthcare and their lives. To do that we need to improve the health literacy of the community. Giving people the information in these lists empowers them to take control and to know it’s OK to ask their doctor about suggested treatment and that it is OK to refuse treatment and tests.

“We want consumers and clinicians to take a step back and think about the care they are giving and receiving, and move away from the “more is better” mindset.

“There is a growing body of evidence that people are having unnecessary procedures and tests and this is part of the reason for expenditure on health growing so rapidly.

“It is also a cost to the community in wasting valuable health resources, clinicians time, hospital beds, expensive equipment on interventions that have no real benefit and can do harm.

“While people argue about the extent of the wastage there is no one saying there is not waste. If we want to ensure Medicare is sustainable then we need to reduce wastage and only do interventions that are necessary.

“People also need better access to reliable information and guidance about how to use the vast amounts of information that are available on the internet.

“Doctors can be quick to criticise “Dr Google” but what we need is some way for people to know which are the reliable sites that they could go to if they want to find out more about their condition or a treatment option which is being offered to them. Again this would improve health literacy which we know will lead to better health outcomes,” Ms Wells said.

Read more: Tests, treatments, and procedures for healthcare providers and consumers to question (goes to an external website, Choosing Wisely Australia)

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Media contact

Mark Metherell

Em.metherell@chf.org.au
T:  02 6273 5444 
M: 0429 111 986