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Choosing Wisely with Hamilton Family Health Team

The Hamilton Family Health Team (HFHT) is the largest Family Health Team in the province. With 166 family doctors and over 250 health care professionals, HFHT serves over half of the people living in the City of Hamilton.

Hamilton is the 9th largest city in all of Canada. “Hamilton is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, with health care replacing steel as the number one employer. We serve a range of patients in the region, and Choosing Wisely encourages a consistent approach to best practices in prescribing and testing”, says Dr. Michael Pray, one of the three physicians leading the HFHT Choosing Wisely Committee along with Dr. Rob Kerr, and Dr. Monica De Benedetti.

As the largest family health team in Ontario, it can be difficult to bring together all members for grand rounds or discuss updates on guidelines. To address this challenge, HFHT launched their Practicing Wisely Newsletter, a weekly newsletter that covers key topics related to reducing unnecessary tests and treatments. “It’s a great way to get information out to everyone and there’s a lot of interest at the hospital level here in Hamilton,” shared Vanessa Foreman, Health Planning and Communications Coordinator at HFHT. “They’re actually looking to us and our leadership in educating clinicians.”

Every other week, the HFHT Choosing Wisely Committee selects a topic to research and review based on unbiased evidence-based publications. The committee develops a brief that is shared with their members. “We keep them short to make a point” says Dr. Pray. “The cognitive fatigue on clinicians to stay up to date on all guidelines can be exhausting. We try to focus on topical tests and treatments, depending on the time of year and community, that we think our fellow clinicians are dealing with.”

Focusing on awareness weeks or important topics of discussion, the HFHT ensures the newsletter remains relevant and provides new information to clinicians on a weekly basis. During the cold and flu season, the HFHT released an issue on inappropriate antibiotic prescribing, informed by November’s Choosing Wisely Talks, Antibiotic Wisely: Sharing Proven Strategies to Reduce Unnecessary Antibiotic Use, and embedded Choosing Wisely Canada’s Rx Delayed Prescriptions  and the Rx for Viral Infections into their EMR.

Since the launch of the newsletter, the committee has established a reputation for providing informative practice advice to clinicians across the city. Recently, the HFHT released a new issue on Opioid Wisely, based on the new Choosing Wisely Canada campaign. The brief highlights the importance of having thoughtful conversations with patients on opioid prescribing and safer options for managing pain.

With over 50 issues of the Practicing Wisely Newsletter available, the HFHT Choosing Wisely Committee is a fantastic example of driving change through awareness, education and encouraging informed discussions. The newsletter is a valuable resource to practicing clinicians and continues Choosing Wisely Canada’s efforts to stimulate the conversation on unnecessary tests and treatments.

Check out the full list of Practicing Wisely Newsletter issues available and other great initiatives led by the HFHT:

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