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The Health Ratings Center released ratings of cancer screening tests in late January. Like our ratings of heart screening tests released in 2011, we found a few really good screening tests and several that were not so good. Why these ratings?

We were surprised that surveys of healthy Consumer Reports subscribers showed they were getting lots of poorly performing screening tests, knew very little about the tests and were not learning much from their doctor's about screening. When we asked about colon cancer screening, we were disappointed to learn that consumers did not know there were three good options for screening. And a substantial number did not know the risks of colonoscopy even though they'd had one.

When our journalists found buses traveling around doing prostate cancer screening, robotic prostate surgery billboards and mammography parties, we knew we had a Consumer Reports story. We eventually realized that a lot of doctors and consumers are stuck in the '60s thinking about screening: "The more the better". And unfortunately the healthcare payment system rewards that approach.

But screening for disease is like diagnosing and treating disease. A more individualized approach that weighs the pros and cons, and lets the consumers decide, makes sense.

John Santa, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center
March 2013 Newsletter
In this issue:
What' New
Campaign Updates
Partner Spotlight
Quick Links
What's New

Focus on Care Transition


In February, the Care About Your Care 2013 campaign was launched, with a

primary focus on Care Transition.  This campaign, which is sponsored by the

Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, was initially launched in 2011, to assist

people in learning what they can do to receive better health care.  This year, the

campaign is directed at improving care transitions to reduce avoidable hospital

readmissions, and how nurses, care coordinators, doctors, consumers, caregivers,

patients, and others can work together to achieve this. Consumer Reports, as a

partner in this campaign, is offering consumers free guides to a safe, successful

hospital stay. This includes recommendations on what to do when you are in the

hospital and when you are getting ready to leave.  


Please visit our campaign page for more information.


Campaign Updates
Choosing Wisely Campaign Expands 


The Choosing Wisely campaign announced an important expansion at a press

conference on February 21st, in Washington DC. Medical specialty groups have

released new lists of overused tests and treatments that patients and doctors

should question. Consumer Reports is proud to have signed agreements with

15 of the new societies and we're looking forward to supporting their efforts and

working with them to create the free, consumer friendly information (brochures,

videos, posters, etc.) to promote discussions between patients and caregivers

about the most useful approaches to healthcare.


A complete list of  each of the specialty societies Five Things Physicians and

Patients Should Question is available here. It promises to grow even

further later this year, as more specialty societies sign on with their own lists, 

according to the ABIM Foundation, which runs the Choosing Wisely campaign.


"In less than a year, more than 70 million consumers have received practical

advice about medical tests and treatments that are often overused or inappropriate,"

said James A. Guest, J.D., president and CEO of Consumer Reports. It's a thrill

to be working with the ABIM Foundation on Choosing Wisely. And we applaud

the courage of the specialty societies for addressing overuse and encouraging

informed patient-doctor dialogue."


Consumer Reports, in supporting the effort, has prepared dozens of free,

patient-friendly brochures in English and Spanish. They are available here.


Partner Spotlight 

Patient Empowerment Expo


The American College of Physicians and Consumer Reports are co-sponsoring

Your Health: Fact Not Fiction. A Patient Empowerment Expo in San Francisco

on April 13th. This 3-hour conference is free and open to the public, and will focus

on empowering consumers to take control of their healthcare by learning how to talk

to their doctors and what questions to ask. There will be interactive sessions with

doctors on topics such as best and worst screenings, what medical tests are needed

and which are not and how to live a healthy life. In addition, we'll provide free nutritional

information, BMI testing and an opportunity for patients to share their stories.

See all of the details here.


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