Dr Deb Harley is a general practitioner in a large Geelong practice and has been a keen supporter of the Choosing Wisely initiative over the past few years.
On referring her patients to specialist appointments, Dr Harley provides them with a wallet-sized copy of the Choosing Wisely 5 questions to ask your doctor resource which was developed to encourage people to be more active participants in their own health management.
Dr Harley said: “I encourage patients to familiarise themselves with the questions and pick out what might be important for them to ask their specialist – to provide guidance in what might be a time of stress.
“It can also open people to the possibility that maybe an operation is not the only thing that will help their knee or shoulder.” Dr Harley has the 5 questions displayed in her consultation room. She explains to patients that Choosing Wisely is an international movement, led by medical colleges, and said her patients are receptive to the idea that there is an evidence-based philosophy behind the initiative.
“It’s so much easier to say colleges support this approach and agree with the philosophy that patients should ask questions – that this is legit and acceptable,” she said. A greater uptake of Choosing Wisely in the local community is something Dr Harley is keen to see, and she advocates for the initiative through her roles with the local Primary Health Network and a hospital outpatient clinic.
“In our area it’s almost imperative we have the local public health service on board, as we have such a close relationship with them and it would be so much easier for our patients if there was consistency across all sectors of healthcare,” she said.
This story first appeared in the Choosing Wisely Australia 2019 Annual Report: Partnering for change.
5 questions to ask your doctor or other healthcare provider to make sure you end up with the right amount of care.