Doctors ordered fewer unnecessary heart tests after they watched an educational video and received monthly feedback reports, according to a new randomized study in Ontario and the U.S.
Echocardiograms are ultrasounds of the heart and one of the most common diagnostic tests, cardiologists say. Clinicians order the non-invasive tests unnecessarily at times, leading to false positive findings that can snowball into more invasive tests and potentially harm patients.
It's one example groups such as the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Choosing Wisely Canada have focused on reducing the more than one million unnecessary medical tests and treatmentsordered each year across the country that don't contribute to patient care.
Echocardiograms allow physicians to visualize heart function, such as watch the organ beat, check if a valve is leaking or look for damage after a heart attack.
Now Dr. Sacha Bhatia, a cardiologist at Women's College Hospital and Toronto's University Hospital Network, and his team have tested a way to reduce unnecessary echocardiograms, at least in the short term. The tests now cost the health-care system in Ontario more than $190 million a year, he said.