Last week the first major medical meeting devoted to the topic of avoidable care was held in Cambridge, MA. The two-day Avoiding Avoidable Care Conference was organized by the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation and the New America Foundation, and co-hosted by the Institute of Medicine. Attendees included experienced, practicing clinicians from a broad range of medical specialties, along with thought leaders in health policy.
Speakers and panelists discussed the broad scope of issues that lead to avoidable care, including its causes and consequences, and its implications for medical professionalism and our society at large. Conference organizers hoped the conference would begin a dialog around the need to change medical culture – a shift they believe is necessary in order to reduce the delivery of unnecessary care.
The conference featured a number of distinguished speakers including Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine; Dr. Don Berwick, former administrator for the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Dr. Bernard Lown, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and retired physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Secretary of Health and Human Services of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dr. Lown’s presentation is available to watch on the conference website.
Dr. Albert Mulley, Jr., co-founder of the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, spoke on Wednesday’s panel What are the knowledge gaps in avoiding avoidable care? Ben Moulton, Foundation senior legal advisor, helped bring the conference to a close on the panel How can consumers and purchasers help drive the needed change? Ben’s talk focused on what he described as a fractured informed consent process. He encouraged the physicians in the room to adopt shared decision making (SDM) because it is the only way to ensure patients are fully informed and involved in the consent process. Ben also told attendees that not only is SDM “the right thing to do” but it has also been shown to lead to better care, impact utilization rates and lower health care costs.
We’ve pulled together highlights from the conference’s Twitter activity (Twitter hashtag #avoidablecare) using Storify. For updates from the conference organizers, follow @avoidablecare on Twitter. For media write-ups of the conference please check out the Avoiding Avoidable Care Conference website.