Monitoring Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations matters

Quick tips for health-care providers to manage conversations about potentially unnecessary tests, treatments or procedures

At its core, Choosing Wisely Canada is a campaign about building awareness that “more is not always better” when it comes to health-care. Here are some quick tips from Choosing Wisely Canada for health-care providers who must manage conversations about potentially unnecessary tests, treatments or procedures.

1. How does the Partnership’s report measuring concordance with cancer-related recommendations help improve patient care and/or the sustainability of the health system?

In the quest to provide good care to patients, the health system can sometimes do too much, by over-screening, over-diagnosing and over-treating patients. This can result in unnecessary risks and harm to patients, as well as needless use of precious health-care resources. The Partnership’s report offers the first ever glimpse into the extent of unnecessary screening and treatment that goes on across Canada’s cancer systems. By understanding where we’re doing too much, we can focus improvement efforts on the right areas to enhance care quality and health system sustainability.

2. How can patients help improve concordance with these recommendations?

In medicine, as it is in life, more is not always better. There is a lot of confusing and sometimes wrong information one can get on the Internet or through friends and family about what tests and treatments to get. Choosing Wisely Canada was created to help clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments. Patients are encouraged to ask clinicians the following questions:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
  2. What are the downsides?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I do nothing?

For more patient information, visit Choosing Wisely Canada’s new patient website:

3. What recommendations do you have for physicians who are faced with patients asking for unnecessary or even harmful tests or treatments?

There are many possible reasons for why patients might ask for unnecessary or even harmful tests or treatments. Best practice suggests that in such situations, physicians should:

  • explain their recommendations using the guidelines as a reference
  • discuss key evidence about risks, benefits and research supporting the guidelines
  • keep explanations simple and avoid medical jargon
  • acknowledge that guidelines are not a “one size fits all”
  • use written materials to support their recommendations

Choosing Wisely Canada has developed a large number of written patient materials on a variety of topics. For example, there is a patient pamphlet called Low-risk prostate cancer: Don’t rush to get treatment, and another one called Colonoscopy: When you need it€ and when you don’t.

Data call builds new linkages; opportunities for analysis

The Partnership’s Data Integration team worked alongside provincial partners to help identify, link and mine data sources for the information needed in the Quality & Sustainability in Cancer Control report. Hear from partners about how this led to greater analytic capacity and how these data linkages could be used in the future.


Building Analytical Capacity — video transcript