In 2010 Howard Brody, MD, published “Medicine’s Ethical Responsibility for Health Care Reform — The Top Five List” in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the piece, Dr. Brody called on U.S. medical specialty societies to identify five tests and treatments that were overused in their specialty and did not provide meaningful benefit for patients. Shortly after, the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) piloted the “Five Things” concept through an ABIM Foundation Putting the Charter into Practice grant and created a set of three lists of specific steps physicians in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics could take in their practices to promote the more effective use of health care resources. These lists were first published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Building on the work of Dr. Brody and NPA, in April 2012 the ABIM Foundation, along with Consumer Reports, formally launched the Choosing Wisely campaign with the release of “Top Five” lists from nine specialty societies. The widespread media coverage from nearly every top-tier outlet, along with positive reaction among the health care community, inspired 17 additional societies to join the campaign and release lists in February 2013. More than 70 societies comprising over one million clinicians are now partners of the Choosing Wisely campaign.

In 2013, the ABIM Foundation received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to advance the Choosing Wisely campaign by funding 21 state medical societies, specialty societies and regional health collaboratives to help physicians and patients engage in conversations aimed at reducing unnecessary tests and procedures. In 2015, the RWJF awarded a second grant to the ABIM Foundation to continue this important work.

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