When it comes to medical tests and procedures, less can sometimes be better.
According to a new report released this week, Ontario health care providers are successfully working to provide and improve quality care by reducing unnecessary care to patients across Ontario.
Released by Health Quality Ontario and Choosing Wisely Canada, the report, Spotlight on Leaders of Change: Implementing Choosing Wisely Canada Recommendations in Ontario to Improve Quality of Care, includes examples of successful programs implemented by clinical leaders to address unnecessary care in hospitals, primary and long-term care settings.
Health Quality Ontario defines high-quality care as safe, effective, efficient, patient-centred, timely and equitable. Reducing unnecessary care aligns with this definition of quality, as does engaging patients in decisions concerning their care. Unnecessary care is defined as care in which there is a lack of benefit or in which benefits are outweighed by the potential risks, including patient inconvenience, increased cost to the health care system, and even potential harm to patients.
Over the last two years, Ontario researchers have worked with Health Quality Ontario and Choosing Wisely Canada to measure how common unnecessary care is in Ontario. This work has shown, for example, that 30% of Ontarians received potentially unnecessary cardiac tests and blood work before low risk, non-cardiac surgery. And, according to the report, unnecessary tests are not confined to hospitals. The report also notes that in primary care, 21% of Ontarians had bone mineral density testing not covered by practice guidelines.
Reducing unnecessary care also saves money. Savings from ordering tests and procedures only when they are needed can be redirected to other needed patient care.
Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO of Health Quality Ontario, believes that “Choosing Wisely, implemented well, has the potential to significantly advance the provincial quality agenda. It is a great partnership opportunity not only for Health Quality Ontario, but for providers, patients and organizations across the healthcare system.”