Greater Detroit Area Health Council Visit: Detour on the Choosing Wisely® Roadshow

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Jaime McClennen


CW-Roadshow_logoUp until now, the Choosing Wisely Roadshow has focused on visits to its specialty society partners. But all journeys take detours and I am very glad this one took me to Detroit to visit the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC) and their partners. GDAHC is one of the recipients of the Choosing Wisely grants, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Under this grant, GDAHC is partnering with delivery systems including Henry Ford Health System to increase awareness of overuse by patients and consumers around reducing antibiotics for bronchitis, imaging for lower back pain and inappropriate testing for vitamin D, while increasing appropriate testing.

As part of GDAHC’s work, in a partnership with the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, 480,000 households have received multiple mailings informing them of the campaign. These mailings emphasize that more is not always better and urge patients to be involved in their medical decisions by acting as drivers (not passengers) of their own health care. The initial mailing included a wallet-size card of Consumer Reports’ five questions patients should ask their physicians and invited the recipient to attend local meetings about the campaign. The outreach was highly successful – 4,000 households asked for additional cards and more than 17,000 retirees have attended meetings around the country to learn more about Choosing Wisely.

GDHAC’s work has been driven by the dynamic leadership of GDAHC CEO Kate Kohn-Parrott and her motivated staff.  Ms. Kohn-Parrott spent years in benefits at an automotive company and understands the different perspectives of health care stakeholders.

While in the Detroit area, I also had the pleasure of meeting with leaders at Henry Ford Health System and their 675,000-member health plan, Health Alliance Plan, who are working collaboratively to embed alerts in their electronic medical records based on Choosing Wisely recommendations and to educate other contracted providers about the program. This work comes a year after the Henry Ford Health Network asked each of their practice sites to work on at least one recommendation and created a Choosing Wisely competition for the best quality improvement effort.

I also met with medical leadership from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS), whose base includes four million subscribers across the state. All 30 large physician organizations throughout the state that they contract with have been asked by BCBS to pick three Choosing Wisely recommendations to improve on over the next year. BCBS is giving them baseline use information.

Then it hit me–most all of the delivery systems in Michigan are involved implementing Choosing Wisely in some way. I began to think about all the possibilities of learning networks and collaboration among physicians and the organizations with which they are affiliated.  It has happened in the State of Washington with Washington Health Alliance and it could happen in Michigan and elsewhere. Holy cow! It’s time to get to work…