An article in Forbes magazine entitled “Mark Cuban Doesn’t Understand Health Care” highlighted a series of tweets sent out by Mr. Cuban telling his 2.8 million followers to obtain quarterly blood tests in order to “have a baseline of your own personal health.” The Forbes piece focused on the “problems with Cuban’s argument” and included an exchange between the businessman and Charles Ornstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with ProPublica who challenged Mr. Cuban to provide evidence that these tests have any benefit to patients.
After reading this piece, I was struck by how quickly and vocally Mr. Cuban’s calls for unnecessary testing were rebutted, particularly from physicians and others in the medical community:
@mcuban you should really educate yourself about the dangers of over testing and treatment.
— Larry Husten (@cardiobrief) April 1, 2015
— Richard Walega (@cyby9) April 1, 2015
A few tweets actually tagged #ChoosingWisely:
— Deborah Roseman (@roseperson) April 1, 2015
The Choosing Wisely® recommendations are grounded in evidence, and when the evidence says we shouldn’t be doing something, we shouldn’t be doing it. Unnecessary blood testing is akin to the old-fashioned belief that bloodletting balanced the humors in the body. When science progressed to the point where there was evidence that humors don’t exist, the bloodletting stopped.
Choosing Wisely celebrates its third anniversary on April 4. I’m not sure if three years ago Mr. Cuban’s recommendation for unnecessary testing would have generated such a response. In fact, it may have even gone unnoticed as just another thing we “should” be doing to stay healthy.
I was heartened by the vocal response of many doctors against this modern-day bloodletting. The ideals of the Choosing Wisely campaign are taking root and patients will benefit by getting the right amount of care they need at the right time.
Daniel B. Wolfson
EVP and COO, ABIM Foundation