More healthcare is not always better

Choosing Wisely Australia® is part of a global social movement that’s encouraging consumers and health professionals to have better conversations about tests, treatments and procedures. The aim is to reduce unnecessary healthcare for consumers, identifying which practices are helpful and which are not.

The Choosing Wisely initiative is challenging the notion that “more is better” when it comes to healthcare. As you know, modern healthcare systems are complex and there are so many options when it comes to tests, treatments and procedures. However, it’s important to be fully informed and actively involved in making a shared decision with your healthcare professional about the right course of action for you.

Latest advice on healthcare to question 

Choosing Wisely was launched in Australia by NPS MedicineWise in April 2015 and is led by our health profession. Using the latest evidence, health professional colleges, societies and associations are developing lists of recommendations of tests, treatments and procedures that healthcare providers and consumers should question.

Unnecessary practices are a diversion away from effective care. They can lead to more frequent and invasive investigations that can expose you to undue risk of harm, emotional stress, or financial cost. So, it is important you are being an active participant in the decisions being made about your healthcare, which means being knowledgeable about your options.

Have a good conversation with your healthcare provider

Choosing Wisely is encouraging you to have conversations with your doctor, and other healthcare providers, that will help you receive the most appropriate care for you. Information that can assist with your healthcare decisions include:

  • being aware of the benefits and risks of any tests, treatments and procedures being recommended, and
  • understanding the options available to you (some of which may not involve tests or treatments). 

 To help you have these conversations during your appointments, Choosing Wisely has five questions you can ask your healthcare provider. These can help you get the right amount of care and avoid those tests, treatments and procedures that provide little benefit, or could even cause harm.

Five questions to ask your doctor or other healthcare provider
1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
Tests may help you and your doctor or other health care provider determine the problem. Treatments, such as medicines, and procedures may help to treat it.

2. What are the risks?

Will there be side effects to the test or treatment? What are the chances of getting results that aren’t accurate? Could that lead to more testing, additional treatments or another procedure?
 
3. Are there simpler, safer options?
Are there alternative options to treatment that could work? Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods or exercising more, can be safe and effective options?
 
4. What happens if I don't do anything?
Ask if your condition might get worse — or better — if you don’t have the test, treatment or procedure right away.
 
5. What are the costs?
Costs can be financial, emotional or a cost of your time. Where there is a cost to the community, is the cost reasonable or is there a cheaper alternative?
 
It can be helpful to prepare in advance of your healthcare appointment. In addition to the 5 Questions resource, Choosing Wisely Australia has a helpful factsheet on how to communicate with your healthcare provider. This includes booking a longer appointment if necessary, prioritising the issues you want to discuss and taking a friend or relative with you if you don’t feel confident handling any aspect of the appointment.
 
These resources are available online:

For more information about the Choosing Wisely Australia initiative, visit choosingwisely.org.au
 

Last Review Date: March 29, 2018