As I sat down to write my first blog post for The Alliance, I remembered that just a week ago I couldn’t manage to even write a paragraph due to a severe migraine.
Those nasty headaches seemed to happen so often that naturally I began assuming the worst: brain tumor, brain aneurysm or blood clot. Some may call me a hypochondriac but I like to think of myself as being a cautious health care consumer. So while looking up my doctor’s phone number, I began to think about how the doctor’s bill would drain my health savings account and bank account, plus the time off from work needed to go to the clinic.
Discovering the Choosing Wisely Initiative
With all those negatives in mind, I decided to do my research before scheduling an appointment. Meanwhile I was still struggling with the pounding inside my head so I popped an Excedrin and downed a gallon of water and that’s when it hit me – I could use “Choosing Wisely.”
I have been writing oodles of articles and summaries about this initiative started by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). So I typed “Choosing Wisely” in my web browser and up popped a patient handout created by Consumer Reports for “Imaging tests for headaches.” Bingo!
I was surprised to learn that if I had called my doctor and requested an appointment or a test like a CT scan or MRI, I might have created a new type of “headache” for myself. I was shocked to find out that:
- CT or MRI tests rarely help diagnose the problem.
- Tests would pose just as many risks as dealing with my headache.
- I would likely create thousands in medical bills as the doctor appointment turned into a referral to a specialist, scans and possibly more procedures or tests.
It worked for me
Choosing Wisely combined reassurance that sometimes it’s OK not to get a test done with treatment ideas that I could use to deal with my headaches. After I popped a vitamin B pill, drank a ton of water and took a walk my headache subsided substantially. I also found a list of foods that I should eat to help with my problem including watermelon, bananas, pineapple and cucumbers.
Even though my medical condition was non-emergent, Choosing Wisely came to my rescue. I was glad I had a resource to reassure myself that I was not dying. I hope others will utilize this resource as a guide when they have a medical issue. I know I have already shared it with my mom, aunts and sisters.
And when you truly need a doctor, it’s reassuring to know Choosing Wisely is likely playing a role there, too. Choosing Wisely provides information directly to physicians to help them refer people to alternative methods when appropriate rather than resorting to tests, surgeries or prescriptions.
In addition to her work at The Alliance, Tierney is an active member on The Business Forum, previously serving on the board and acting as senior chair for the ATHENA committee. Tierney also participates in the Advertising Federation of Madison and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network of Madison.
Tierney earned her bachelor's degree of business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with an emphasis in information systems and a certification on the Project Management Body of Knowledge.
Read blog posts by Tierney.
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