Challenges accessing patient records a driver of unnecessary healthcare

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Specialists and hospital staff cite challenges in accessing patient information from other clinicians as a common reason for requesting unnecessary medical tests, treatments or procedures, according to a new report from Choosing Wisely Australia.

In survey findings published in the 2018 Choosing Wisely Australia Report: Conversations for change, 61% of specialists and 36% of health services reported that difficulties accessing information from doctors in other settings, including results, was a key reason for requesting unnecessary healthcare.

Health professionals also identified patient expectations, potential for medical litigation and uncertainty of diagnosis as common factors behind low-value healthcare.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Steve Morris said: “The appetite for reducing unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures is strong among Australia’s health professional bodies, in primary and specialist care and in our hospitals. This year’s report showcases perspectives from healthcare providers, consumer health organisations and researchers who are leveraging Choosing Wisely to address the overuse of medical tests and over-diagnosis of health conditions in Australia,” Mr Morris said.

“Ultimately the goal is ensuring less people are undergoing healthcare they don’t need and improving the quality and safety of our healthcare system. Improving communication across different care settings and empowering consumers to be active partners in their healthcare can help overcome barriers to optimal care.”

The cornerstone of the Choosing Wisely movement, operating in more than 20 countries, is improving conversations between health professionals and consumers about available and appropriate health management options.

Choosing Wisely publishes the latest evidence-based advice on healthcare practices that should be questioned, with 26 new recommendations released in 2018.