Providers await rules to curb medical overuse

As the healthcare industry deals with the "medical gluttony" of unnecessary tests and procedures--as American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley called it--providers anxiously await guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP) to help them better identify which patients should be receiving preventive and other additional services, Reuters reported.

With overuse costing $200 billion to $250 billion a year, the ACP's top priority is removing waste from the healthcare system with limited government intervention.

As part of its mission to curb overuse, the ACP's most recent ethics manual recommends physicians take cost-effectiveness into account when planning treatment for their patients.

But despite the physician group's intentions to keep costs low and patients safe, some doctors worry the guidelines will end up undermining physician care and decision-making, as well as take away some of their earnings, Reuters noted.

Moreover, research published in the Jan. 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that the industry lacks adequate research on the overuse of healthcare services. To properly design guidelines to reduce unnecessary care (and associated costs), healthcare organizations need to better understand overuse, the authors said.

With that in mind, medical educators at Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago are partnering with a nonprofit organization to develop web-based videos that teach graduate medical education students cost-consideration strategies, according to a statement released yesterday.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- check out the new ACP ethics manual
- read the press release