It all started at a blood drive. Lisa Mason, Vice President of Cost Quality for Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC), struck up a conversation with Red Cross Account Manager Trudy Smith about the work she does to promote the Choosing Wisely® campaign.
“I thought, ‘I know some groups that I can give this information to,’” said Smith, who is also active in her Detroit area community. “Everybody at some point talks to a physician. If people have more information, I think they will be more engaged in health care decisions.”
Mason told Smith about GDAHC’s speakers bureau, which recruits health care consumers to lead discussions about Choosing Wisely with other consumers. The bureau is a part of GDAHC’s efforts to raise awareness about the Choosing Wisely campaign as part of an Aligning Forces for Quality grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“If people hear about Choosing Wisely from their peers, instead of from a doctor or organization, the message might have more impact,” Mason said. “Once the speakers share the information, there is potential for audience members to pass it on to others, exponentially increasing our reach.”
Smith was sold.
So far, GDAHC and its partner MedNetOne Health Solutions have trained eight people. Some trainees, including Smith—who has spoken at group meetings, schools and civic groups through her role with the Red Cross—have experience in health care, and others don’t. Securing volunteers who are able to commit the time to the program (e.g., learning about Choosing Wisely and booking speaking engagements), can be a challenge, Mason said.
During training, the volunteers learn about messaging and speaking techniques. They are also invited to observe GDAHC presentations. Then, they are encouraged to seek speaking engagements through organizations and groups they belong to, such as PTAs, book clubs and senior centers.
Smith gave her first Choosing Wisely talk to about 20 people last month at a Kiwanis Club meeting. She shared a story about an unusual billing charge that she investigated.
“I wanted to learn what was necessary and why,” she said. “Most people would have just paid the bill – the same way most people just say ‘OK’ to prescriptions and tests. I like to share some of my experiences to make the audience feel comfortable. We’re all in this together.”
During the discussion, Smith focused on providing the crowd—made up mostly of retirees—with a few simple takeaways, such as, Ask your doctor questions and be an active participant in health care decisions.
“We had Choosing Wisely handouts so they could reference the material later,” she said. “Hopefully, they took it home and shared it with their family members.”
Through a new grant from the ABIM Foundation and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, GDAHC will focus on reducing the use of antibiotics for viral infections among adults, diagnostic testing for low back pain and screening for Vitamin D deficiencies, and they will work with other organizations to integrate alerts about those three potentially unnecessary tests or treatments into physicians’ ordering sets and provide physicians with regular reports about their ordering patterns.
GDAHC plans to weave the focus areas of its new grant into presentations and will continue to support speakers by providing a PowerPoint and handouts based on Choosing Wisely materials from Consumer Reports.
Smith already has more presentations on the books, including one through a local church’s health ministry.
If you are interested in learning more about the speakers bureau, contact Lisa Mason at 313-596-0811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.