Americans are overspending on healthcare to the tune of $200 billion, according to the Institute of Medicine. There is over-testing, getting unneeded scans, getting prescribed medications or supplements that won't help and opting for a higher cost procedure that offers no more benefit than a lower cost alternative, says Molly Mettler, Senior Vice President of Mission at Healthwise, Inc., a non-profit founded in 1975 to help people make better healthcare decisions.
There have been over 50 medical specialty societies who have looked with the way they practice medicine and have come up with a list of top five concerns around tests and supplements that are no longer necessary due to lack of evidence to justify the cost, says Mettler. The American College of Orthopedic Surgeons pointed out the use of a supplement for symptomatic osteoarthritis in the knee that doesn't work.
Mettler says that one of the top reasons people go see a doctor is for low back pain. When they seek medical attention, they get caught up in a "rigor of care" that leads them to more and more tests and scans. Mettler says that according to the Academy of Family Physicians, they suggest not having an MRI for low back during the first six weeks of diagnosis, barring any apparent red flags that accompany the back pain. "We so often get caught up in this river of care because we don't know and we want help and we trust our physicians to give us the help that they think is best," she says. What physicians are doing now, are policing themselves and finding out what tests work.
Healthwise is involved in helping the consumer, the patient and their family get smarter about their healthcare decisions. People can go to choosingwisely.org to get information about whether they should get a certain test or take a certain supplement. It is an initiative by the ABIM, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and Consumer Reports, the publisher. WebMD.com, is a general health information site and another good resource for people. Healthwise.org licenses some of its decision-making tools to WebMD and they are available for free to the public.
Molly Mettler is the Senior Vice President of Mission at Healthwise, Inc. For more information about her, click here. She spoke with Retirement News Today, providing online, on-demand retirement news video content. Retirement News Today is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.