After 800,000 Contacts, What Comes Next
About a year ago, the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA) achieved its goal of disseminating Choosing Wisely® materials and messaging to 1,700 physicians and health professionals, and making nearly 800,000 points of contact with consumers.
As one of 21 Choosing Wisely projects funded in early 2013 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MiHIA worked with Consumer Reports and local organizations to raise awareness of commonly used tests or procedures that may be unnecessary and to promote conversations about health care decisions.
“We partnered with local universities, health departments and community centers and hospitals,” said project manager Katie Trotter. “The initial goal was inundation – create as many points of contact to get the messages out to the public and physicians. We facilitated meetings, grand rounds, presentations and a public service announcement to spread the word.”
One of their biggest successes was to provide large employers, such as The Dow Chemical Company, with a toolkit on ways to raise employee awareness of Choosing Wisely. Dow distributed information about the campaign to thousands of employees through an employee newsletter, one-on-one health assessments offered to employees and a retiree benefits fair.
“Our goal is the triple aim: Better health, better care and better value. Choosing Wisely helps in all three areas,” said Steve Morgenstern, North America Health and Welfare Plans Leader for Dow.
When MiHIA’s grant ended in 2015, its Board of Directors committed to continuing its Choosing Wisely activities. While the initial grant focused on sharing information broadly, the next phase of the initiative, now funded by local business partners, is focused on engaging specific populations through targeted messaging from the campaign.
By partnering with Senior Services of Midland County, Trotter embarked on a speaking tour at various senior centers and surveyed members to gauge awareness and interest in the campaign. Results indicated that 69 percent strongly agree that Choosing Wisely efforts are critical for the region and 81 percent feel comfortable talking about tests or procedures with their doctor.
“We are finding that there is a legitimate need and desire for information from consumers,” she said. “If people start to see the Choosing Wisely materials regularly and recognize them, they will start to resonate and have a bigger impact.”
Trotter continues to work with partners on ways to regularly distribute the Choosing Wisely information through email blasts, staff presentations and handouts. She also provides them with packets that highlight specific topics or Choosing Wisely recommendations for use in communications with their employees or members.
She added that MiHIA is now able to test their messages, since one of the physicians serving on the MiHIA board hosts a monthly consumer voice group.
“The consumers give us feedback about our messaging and we are able to take this into consideration and make adjustments,” she said. “The group members did confirm our need for having materials that were simplified and at a lower reading level so that more people could understand the messaging. They also stated that they were most likely to pay attention to Choosing Wisely messaging in their physician’s office.”