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Penn Medicine researchers map strategy for 'choosing wisely' on low-value health care services
Date:10/25/2012

PHILADELPHIA Cutting the expenses associated with "low-value" medical tests and treatments such as unnecessary imaging tests and antibiotics for viral infections that won't benefit from them will require a multi-pronged plan targeting insurance companies, patients, and physicians, according to a JAMA Viewpoint article published this week by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. These efforts transcend economic impact, however, and may also be essential for improving health care quality and patient safety.

The piece follows last spring's launch of the "Choosing Wisely" initiative, a project of the American Board of Internal Medicine and Consumer Reports magazine. This public and physician education campaign identifies procedures and tests that add little value and may be unnecessary or even cause harm. The campaign encourages stakeholders to improve consideration and discussion of the proper uses of these services.

Several seemingly promising strategies have been proposed to encourage the use of high-value services and discourage low-value services, but they yielded mixed results. For example, a study aimed at improving medication adherence among heart attack patients by eliminating co-pays for medications such as statins appeared to make conceptual sense, but in the end failed to show a significant reduction in subsequent cardiac problems or health care spending. And other studies involving higher co-pays resulted in prescription-drug cost savings, but led to higher rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations so no money was saved overall.

The Penn researchers suggest, however, that these "value-based" strategies could be designed more effectively in order to cut the use of low-value services or drugs. Bringing cost sharing strategies in line with evidence-based screening guidelines, for instance, might play a role in reducing expenditures. If prostate-specific antige
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2313
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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