Southern District Health Board recently joined other district health boards (DHBs) in formally introducing the Choosing Wisely approach. Choosing Wisely encourages consumers and health professionals to discuss whether a particular test, treatment or procedure is needed, before going ahead with it.
Gail Thomson, Executive Director Quality & Clinical Governance Solutions, says when she joined the DHB in late October 2018, there were already a lot of people passionate about questioning whether particular interventions were really needed.
‘That included the Community Health Council, which is our consumer advisory group, and our clinical governance council.’
She says the DHB’s aim is for a Choosing Wisely approach to be threaded through everything they do and become one of their ways of working.
‘This is about doing the right thing and embedding it, not about doing a whole lot of new things. Our staff and consumers have been quite passionate about this for a while, so we are saying ‘now is the time’.
‘Like all DHBs, we want to be doing the right thing. Choosing Wisely is part of our approach to continually improve the quality of our care and clinical governance and be a safer organisation.’
Gail says there are already initiatives underway in the DHB that take a Choosing Wisely approach.
‘For example, urine dipsticks have been removed from most wards, to reduce unnecessary testing for bladder infections. Over-testing is associated with the use of antibiotics that in most cases are not necessary and can cause harm by contributing to the development of antibiotic resistant bugs such as MRSA.
‘Formally signing up to Choosing Wisely gives us an opportunity to empower more people to question routine care and to discuss with patients whether a particular test, treatment or procedure is really necessary or beneficial.’
Chair of the DHB’s Community Health Council Karen Browne says having a Choosing Wisely approach at Southern DHB as a win-win for everyone.
‘I see Choosing Wisely as being about increasing health literacy and empowering people to have more responsibility when it comes to their own health.
‘It’s important people feel they can question health professionals if they are unsure, rather than just going with what they say. They need to know what benefit a treatment is to them, do they really need it, what are the risks, what alternatives are there?
‘Having a partnership approach must also improve job satisfaction for health professionals. They can see the consumer is willing to meet them in the middle, to perhaps make a lifestyle change that is going to improve their outcome.’
For more information, see www.choosingwisely.org.nz.