November 2015 Newsletter

This week, our team at Consumer Reports is participating in the annual Get Smart About Antibiotics observance. We're pleased to be a partner in this CDC effort to raise public awareness about the crisis of antibiotic resistance. We do so through the Choosing Wisely campaign (including useful information for consumers on antibiotics), through our Hospital Safety Ratings (including our call for improvements among twelve poor performers for hospital infections), and through the release of the last piece in our major three-part Consumer Reports magazine series on superbugs, this one focused on the problem of antibiotic overuse in food animals.

Everything we do to reduce patient harm is informed by the stories consumers tell us about their experiences with inappropriate and overused care. We're motivated by the story of Christian Lillis, who lost his mother to an antibiotic-associated C. difficile infection after a routine dental procedure. We've also collected stories (see below) from Renate P., who told us about needlessly repeated X-rays, and Randi O., who told us about unwanted surgery at the end of life.   And I was honored to be a judge in the recent Costs of Care story contest, highlighting successes among providers in reducing health care costs and improving value. The winning entry was "Doc, I Need an MRI." Stories like these generate high levels of consumer engagement, giving us the opportunity both to learn from consumers and to educate them about conversations that lead to the right care.

We invite you to contact us if you are interested in collaborating with us to collect new stories from your community. The more stories we collect, the more powerful our movement becomes.

Meanwhile, with the high cost of prescription drugs in the news, our recent Consumer Reports poll on the pain consumers are experiencing paying for their drugs continues to be picked up in the media and was cited by Hillary Clinton, among other influential voices in the conversation. 

Consumer Reports has been invited to participate in this week's HHS Pharmaceutical Forum. In the panel "Addressing Patient Access and Affordability of Prescription Drugs", which will be live-webcast at 10:30 am ET on November 20, our Prescription Drugs Editor Lisa Gill will share our consumer insights and discuss the information and policy implications of the stories we are hearing from consumers. We hope to see some of you there. And if you would like to talk with us about your ideas for solutions for making prescription drugs more affordable for consumers--or partner with us to share our free Best Buy Drugs resources to help consumers shop for their best value options--please contact us.
Tara Montgomery
Senior Director, Health Impact

Patients provide personal looks at overuse
How are real people affected by overuse or misuse of medical care? To help bring Choosing Wisely issues to life, Consumer Reports has added patients' own stories to the Consumer Health Choices site. Nine people, so far, have shared stories about the need to talk with your doctor about tests, drugs, imaging and symptoms. And thousands of visitors have made these the most popular pages on the site. If you know someone with a similar story to share, invite them to get in touch.
New High Value Care resources available
Consumer Reports has collaborated with the American College of Physicians to create a new set of plain-language patient education materials. The topics: where to get care; adult vaccines; and healthy lifestyles. The two organizations have been working together since 2012 on consumer-friendly resources for the High Value Care campaign. The full set, including versions in Spanish, is available at ConsumerHealthChoices.

Choosing Wisely in Washington State
Providers, patients, employers, government and insurers weighed in on Choosing Wisely at a Washington State summit meeting in late October. More than 150 attendees discussed campaign goals, tactics and lessons learned so far. The state's Choosing Wisely task force, a collaboration of many local stakeholders, is helping providers develop action plans, enlist supporters, identify barriers and measure progress toward early changes in clinical practice.

New Mexico is new Health Impact partner
The New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Value is a multi-stakeholder, employer-led coalition working to improve health and maximize the value of healthcare services by focusing on quality, transparency and cost. The Coalition is an outgrowth of the work of the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Quality, an initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality and HealthInsight New Mexico.

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In the news
Modern Healthcare: Physicians in training need to learn more about the economic and social system they're about to join.

Washington Post: Nurse with fatal breast cancer says that end-of-life discussions saved her life. 


CMS.govGovernment names recipients of grants for transforming clinical practice.