Overtested, overtreated and over here

5 Jun 2012

The principles behind an American campaign to reduce unnecessary and often expensive medical interventions are gaining support in Australia, writes Melissa Sweet in Inside Story

ON A WET, miserable evening in Sydney not so long ago, a panel of academics came together to discuss the future of healthcare. As part of their preparation for the event, they and others had been asked to nominate their favourite metaphors for the challenges ahead. An assortment of powerful images was put forward – from boiling frogs to tsunamis to the doomed Titanic. A clear theme was a sense of hopelessness in the face of fragmented and dysfunctional systems, overwhelming demands and ever-escalating costs.

But a campaign recently launched in the United States suggests an alternative to these dismal pictures. It may well prove to be a landmark in efforts to steer healthcare onto a more sustainable footing by focusing on quality care and improved health rather than throughput. The campaign is significant because it is not the work of bean counters, but of a coalition of medical and consumer groups…

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Above: the best way to improve the health of future generations is to spend more on education rather than healthcare, says GP Justin Coleman. Photo: Bruce Waxman

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