A consumer advocate passionate about encouraging people to ask questions and a team of doctors keen to stop low-value and repetitive pathology tests were the winners of the first Choosing Wisely Champion Awards. The awards were announced at the 5th Choosing Wisely National Meeting on 3 May.
Debra Letica, consumer representative and advocate, is the Champion Consumer and the Pathology Program at Monash Health Melbourne led by Professor Beena Kumar, is the Champion Organisation.
The theme for this year’s meeting was Choosing Wisely for a sustainable health system. Attendees reflected on some of the key challenges facing our health system and the role that consumers and health professionals can play to support sustainability.
NPS MedicineWise CEO Katherine Burchfield said these awards recognise some of the great work that is being done across Australia to bring the Choosing Wisely principles into everyday conversations and healthcare systems.
“Consumers and health professionals are the ones on the ground who can see the opportunities to make improvements in health care. Our inaugural award winners are true champions of Choosing Wisely and illustrate nicely how this initiative can support consumers and health professionals to enable a sustainable health system,” she says.
Debra Letica works to help other consumers be active in their health care to support shared decision making. She is proactive in raising awareness about the Choosing Wisely program and the five questions throughout her work with consumer and professional networks.
Debra says she has had some ‘less than good’ patient and carer experiences. At times she felt dismissed and not listened to.
“When I found out about Choosing Wisely, it just made sense – it flipped a switch in my head. My confidence grew as I started to use and share the five questions that are central to Choosing Wisely. They have changed my world,” she says.
As part of Monash Health’s strategy and vision of Choosing Wisely, a project called ‘Pathology Stewardship in Action –A Proposed traffic light model for optimisation of pathology tests’ has been championed by a team of four laboratory-based doctors.
“A stocktake of tests found that some were being repeated unnecessarily, leading to a potential waste of laboratory resources. We also realised there was a lack of understanding about the benefits and nuances of some pathology tests,” says Professor Kumar, Director of the Pathology Program.
A series of education meetings and newsletters has helped raise awareness and encourage better communication between doctors. Changes to the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) are also helping to improve the use of pathology tests.
“One example is where we have introduced a message into the EMR. It alerts doctors if they are ordering a commonly used urine test within three days of the same test. We’ve shown a decrease in these repeat tests from 12.3% to 8.1%,” she says.
Choosing Wisely Australia with forty-seven Australian health professional colleges, societies and associations as members, is facilitated by NPS MedicineWise. It is part of a global campaign encouraging a national conversation about reducing unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures. Reducing unnecessary care can improve patient care and reduce harm, while freeing up resources for more high-value care.