New Grantees Focus On Reducing Overuse of Tests Identified by Choosing Wisely

Health care organizations will focus on measurable reductions in antibiotic use and unnecessary testing, such as imaging.

Second set of Choosing Wisely grantees funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Philadelphia, PA – The ABIM Foundation today announced the selection of seven initiatives that will focus on reducing the use of tests and treatments that national medical specialty societies participating in Choosing Wisely have said are overused. The grant program, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will bring together health care organizations from across the country that have built strong multistakeholder alliances to focus on implementation of at least threeChoosing Wisely recommendations, including reducing the use of antibiotics for viral infections by at least 20 percent over nearly three years at participating health systems, hospitals and medical groups in their regions.

Launched in April 2012, Choosing Wisely encourages clinicians and patients to discuss which medical tests and procedures may be unnecessary for their condition, and in some instances, can cause harm. To date, more than 100 national, regional and state medical specialty societies, health collaboratives and consumer groups have released more than 70 lists of tests or procedures they say are overused or inappropriate in their specialty, and that clinicians and patients should discuss.

“The new Choosing Wisely grantees are undertaking a systematic effort to make a measurable difference on some of the most pervasive examples of waste or overuse in our nation’s health care system,” said Richard Baron, MD, president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. “The diverse regional health care coalitions selected for these grants all include active clinician participation and leadership, continuing the campaign’s emphasis on working with the health care community to put the Choosing Wisely recommendations into practice.”

The focus on antibiotic overuse was driven by estimates from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that more than half the antibiotics used in the United States are prescribed unnecessarily or used improperly. To help educate physicians about the importance of reducing antibiotic overuse, several societies have included recommendations in their Choosing Wisely lists, including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Campaign partner Consumer Reports has also produced a number of patient-friendly resources about antibiotic overuse that are publicly available on its online ‘antibiotics hub’, which includes tools and resources covering a variety of situations patients may encounter.

“The Choosing Wisely campaign has been a leading light among efforts to arm patients and clinicians with the resources they need to have meaningful conversations about what tests or treatments are truly needed, and when,” said Susan Mende, BSN, MPH, senior program officer at RWJF. “Engaging and empowering patients to be active participants in their health care is a critical element of achieving a national Culture of Health in America.”

The seven initiatives will each receive a grant of $315,000 to advance Choosing Wisely and include:

  • Greater Detroit Area Health Council –The Greater Detroit Area Health Council will work with the Michigan State Medical Society, the Detroit Medical Center Physician Organization, The Henry Ford Physician Network and other partners to reduce unnecessary care in the Detroit region. The Council will focus on reducing the use of antibiotics for viral infections among adults, diagnostic testing for low back pain, and screening for Vitamin D deficiencies.
  • Integrated Healthcare Association – California’s Integrated Healthcare Association will partner with provider organizations Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group (San Diego County) and Sutter Health (Sacramento/Central Valley/San Francisco Bay), the California chapter of the American College of Physicians, the Center for Healthcare Decisions, and Blue Shield of California. Their project will aim to reduce the utilization of antibiotics for adult bronchitis, diagnostic testing for low back pain, pre-operative stress testing, imaging for uncomplicated headache and repetitive complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry testing.
  • Maine Quality Counts – Maine Quality Counts (MQC) will work with local partners and statewide organizations such as the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, Maine Area Agencies on Aging, Mid Coast Health System, Martin’s Point Health Care, Penobscot Community Health Care and St. Joseph Healthcare system. A previous ABIM Foundation Choosing Wisely grantee, MQC’s project will focus on reducing the use of antibiotics for adult bronchitis, diagnostic testing for low back pain, and prescriptions for benzodiazepines for adults 60 and over.
  • North Carolina Healthcare Quality Alliance – The North Carolina Healthcare Quality Alliance is partnering with the North Carolina Medical Society, Duke Medicine, Cornerstone Health Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees. They will focus on reducing the use of antibiotics to treat viral infections in adults, DEXA scans to measure bone density in women younger than 65 and men younger than 70, carotid artery stenosis screening in asymptomatic patients, and annual Pap tests for women between the ages of 30 and 65.
  • UCLA Department of Medicine – The UCLA Department of Medicine will lead a coalition of six partners including the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LAC DHS), the LA County Department of Public Health, the LAC DHS Primary Care Practice Based Research Network, The Wellness Center at Historic General Hospital, and the Society of General Internal Medicine. The partners will focus on reducing imaging for nonspecific low back pain, pre-operative testing, and antibiotics for viral-based upper respiratory illness.
  • Washington Health Alliance – The Washington Health Alliance, a previous ABIM Foundation Choosing Wisely grantee, will continue to partner with the Washington State Medical Association, another Foundation grantee, and provider organizations including the Group Health Cooperative and Swedish Health Services. They will target the overuse of antibiotics for upper respiratory viral infections, imaging for uncomplicated headaches and overly frequent Pap tests for women between the ages of 30 and 65.
  • Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality – The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) will lead an effort to reduce the utilization of antibiotics for viral infections in adults, imaging for low back pain, imaging for headaches and inpatient blood utilization. A past ABIM Foundation partner in advancing Choosing Wisely, WCHQ will partner in this effort with provider organizations Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin and Monroe Clinic, and the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians and the Wisconsin Medical Society.

Today’s announcement marks the second selection of grantees to advance the Choosing Wiselycampaign. From 2013 – 2015, 21 projects led by state medical societies, specialty societies and regional health collaboratives helped educate physicians about the recommendations and build skills to have conversations with patients about the care they need. Highlights of their work can be found in a new report entitled “Advancing the Choosing Wisely Campaign in Clinical Practices and Communities.”


About the ABIM Foundation: The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation, visit or connect with the ABIM Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About Choosing Wisely®: First announced in December 2011, Choosing Wisely® is part of a multi-year effort led by the ABIM Foundation to support and engage clinicians in being better stewards of finite health care resources. Participating specialty societies are working with the ABIM Foundation and Consumer Reports to share the lists widely with their members and convene discussions about the physician’s role in helping patients make wise choices. Learn more by subscribing to the monthly Updates from the Field newsletter and by visiting


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