Australians encouraged to ask the right healthcare questions


10 Jan 2017
Not everyone has the confidence to ask the right questions of their doctors, but Choosing Wisely Australia® is encouraging Australians to do just that to avoid unnecessary medical tests and treatments.

Dr Robyn Lindner of Choosing Wisely Australia said it was important for people to take a fresh look at their healthcare needs and to understand the risks and benefits of the care being recommended.

“This isn’t about second guessing GPs or other health providers, it’s about encouraging people to be active participants in the management of their own healthcare.

“It’s about you feeling confident and comfortable in making decisions about your health and managing your condition in partnership with your healthcare providers, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

“Make sure you are having good conversations with your doctors and other health professionals so you receive the care most appropriate for you.”

Choosing Wisely Australia is part of an international healthcare movement encouraging consumers and healthcare providers to have better conversations around medical tests, treatments and procedures.

Led by Australia’s health profession and facilitated by NPS MedicineWise, the initiative promotes the latest, evidence-based lists of recommendations on particular medical tests, treatments and procedures.

These recommendations aim to guide important conversations between clinicians and their patients about the relevancy of particular tests, treatments and procedures.

A recent report released by Choosing Wisely Australia® shows a real disconnect between doctors and patients about why unnecessary testing is occurring.

In a survey of doctors and consumers, 41% of GPs and 21% of specialists said they were asked by patients for unnecessary tests several times a week. But 79% of consumers said they had tests at their healthcare provider’s recommendation. This highlights the need for better conversations on both sides.

Dr Lindner said: “If you aren’t comfortable asking questions about the healthcare advice you are given, why not take a family member or friend to your next appointment?”

“Our ultimate aim is to improve the quality of healthcare for all Australians and eliminate any unnecessary tests, treatments or procedures where evidence shows they provide little benefit or could cause harm.”

Choosing Wisely Australia recommends people ask their doctors the following ‘5 Questions’ before they have any test, treatment or procedure:
 
  • Do I really need this test or procedure?
  • What are the risks?
  • Are there simpler, safer options?
  • What happens if I don’t do anything?
  • What are the costs?
The ‘5 Questions’ resource is available in 10 languages at choosingwisely.org.au/resources/consumers. There are also tips on how to plan for your next healthcare appointment. 

Last reviewed 10 January 2017