Everyone's a winner if we test less: the CODA action plan

Oliver Walsh, Roger Harris, Oliver Flower, Matthew Anstey, Forbes McGain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In this era of 'Choosing Wisely,' we present a four-step action plan to reduce unnecessary pathology testing and the associated patient harm (blood loss through repeated phlebotomy), economic cost and environmental impact. The authors are experts from the CODA group; a medical education and health-promotion charity that aims to build on the Choosing Wisely initiative to provide meaningful and sustainable actions to reduce the carbon footprint of healthcare, globally. Pathology testing is expensive and carbon-intensive, with as many as half of all tests being not clinically indicated. Reducing unnecessary testing is the only effective way to decrease the carbon footprint and other associated costs, as opportunities to reuse and recycle pathology specimens are limited. The four key steps for action are (i) auditing local practice; (ii) defining unnecessary testing including developing a clinical guideline for rational ordering; (iii) educating stakeholders; and (iv) measuring the impact of the intervention through re-audit. This proven method is designed to be used in any healthcare setting around the world; having a small group of passionate 'champions' is thought to be as important as strong clinical governance and more important than access to sophisticated equipment. Electronic medical record systems and other technological solutions offer new ways to help establish a sustainability mindset and reduce unnecessary testing. The Codachange.org/coda-earth/ website provides a dynamic crowdsourcing platform through which we can collectively learn to meet the diverse needs of our international medical community. Self-reported outcomes are gamified through collaborative feedback, amplification via social media and the ability to earn rewards, be uploaded to the CODA website, or added to the template as a success story. By combining our existing local networks with the emerging international CODA community, we can initiate meaningful change now and enter the era of environmental stewardship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-462
Number of pages3
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number4
Early online date1 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


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