There is widespread acknowledgement that the U.S. health care system must evolve in such a way to provide high value care at reasonable cost. One critical aspect of achieving such a system is to mitigate the effects of unnecessary or avoidable care, which leads to excess costs and puts patients at risk of adverse outcomes. In an effort to bring the topic of avoidable care to the forefront of the dialogue, the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation and the New America Foundation propose organizing a conference in the spring of 2012 to bring together clinicians, health services researchers, and other stakeholders to discuss the national scope of overtreatment and to develop a research agenda in support of potential solutions. The two day conference will feature keynote speeches as well as extended panel discussions with well- respected voices in the health care field. The end goals of the conference are to produce a number of white papers as well as a toolkit to help clinicians bring the message of avoiding avoidable care back to their communities and practices. The ultimate aim of the conference is to contribute to the long-term effort to change the culture of U.S. health care such that value and quality of services rather than volume and quantity is emphasized.
This project addresses the significant problem of avoidable care, including the use of inappropriate care and the overutilization of routine services and defensive medicine which currently plague the nation's health care system. Failing to address the problem of avoidable care significantly increases health care spending and puts patients at risk for adverse outcomes. The proposal for a conference on avoiding avoidable care represents an opportunity to bring together experienced physicians from a broad range of medical specialties and delivery models to discuss the problem of avoidable care and to develop a research agenda for physicians to use as a guide as they continue this dialogue at their home institutions. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the long-term effort that will be required to transform the culture of health care in the United States from one where both patients and providers focus on volume and quantity of services to one centered on value and quality.