Nearly three out of four U.S. physicians say the average physician orders unnecessary medical tests and procedures at least once a week, according to research released by the ABIM Foundation.
The same percentage of physicians (73%) say the frequency of unnecessary tests and procedures is a serious problem for American’s healthcare system. In fact, studies have estimated that unnecessary tests and procedures cost the healthcare system billions and may also compromise patient health. Physicians believe they have the power to reduce unnecessary tests and procedures. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say physicians are in the best position to correct the problem, and 66% report they feel a great deal of responsibility to make sure their patients avoid unnecessary tests and procedures. To help physicians make positive changes to their ordering frequency, Choosing Wisely has partnered with more than 60 medical specialty societies to identify tests and procedures they say are overused or inappropriate. They then created specialty-specific lists that contain evidence-based recommendations that providers can use to make decisions about the most appropriate care.
For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians list recommends physicians don’t perform imaging for low back pain within the first six weeks, unless red flags are present. According to the ABIM Foundation survey, only 21% of physicians say they are aware of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Of those, 62% say they are more likely to have reduced the number of times they recommended a test or procedure because they learned it was unnecessary.