Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards $2 million to Lown Institute

RightCare Alliance tackles overuse in United States health care system

July 23, 2014 (Boston, MA)–Lown Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the relationship between the doctor and patient and protecting patients from inappropriate tests and treatments, has received a $2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The funding will support the RightCare Alliance, an initiative aimed at increasing clinician awareness of overuse and creating tools to foster change in the ways that doctors deliver care.

“The health care delivery system has proved remarkably resistant to change, particularly when it comes to curbing overuse,” says Vikas Saini, MD, president, Lown Institute. “Changing medical culture around overuse requires a sustained, national, coordinated effort that addresses the factors that influence the administration of unnecessary care, the harm such care causes, and our ethical responsibility to patients. We are pleased to partner with RWJF on this aspect of our work.”

Lown Institute will use this funding to grow the RightCare Alliance, comprised of a network of clinicians, patients, and community leaders dedicated to shifting attitudes in American medicine from “more is better” to the right care for patients. Over the course of the two-year grant, Lown Institute will provide Alliance members with action-oriented programs that focus on improving the doctor-patient relationship and reducing overtreatment.

Initiatives include awarding young innovator grants for medical education projects that challenge the drivers of overuse, developing a toolkit of information on how to counter overuse in health care settings, and fielding and disseminating the results of a national physician survey that will explore some of the underlying drivers of overuse, including how doctors are trained.

“Clinicians point to multiple reasons for delivering unnecessary services, such as patient demand, uncertainty and defensive medicine, but overuse also results from the tacit assumption that ‘more is better,’” says Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president, Lown Institute.  “The RightCare Alliance is intended to grow a movement within medicine, by gathering and organizing a large group of clinicians and community leaders from across the country and multiple disciplines, all of whom share a common view of the issue and are willing to work together to influence the views and behavior of other clinicians.”

“If we are to ensure patients get the right care, we must focus on them first,” says Tara Oakman, program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We hope this project will foster dialogue about appropriate care early in physicians’ education – and support a culture change around appropriate use.”

RWJF will also support Lown Institute’s third annual conference March 8-11, 2015 at the Omni Hotel in San Diego, Calif. The conference aim is to inspire RightCare Alliance efforts.

Overuse of medical services – defined as unnecessary treatment, procedures, hospitalization or other services – is pervasive in modern health care. An estimated10 to 30 percent or more of total health care spending in the U.S. is devoted to unnecessary or unwanted medical treatment, which can expose patients to needless risks. That equates to $200 to $800 billion in health care spending annually and between 200,000 and 400,000 patients subjected to preventable medical harm each year.

 About Lown Institute

Lown Institute, a nonprofit, action-driven think tank in Boston, is transforming the culture of medicine by restoring the valued relationship between the doctor and patient, advocating for patients to receive only the medical care they need and want, and removing financial incentives from clinical decision-making. The Institute was founded by renowned cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Bernard Lown, MD, and supports his vision for compassionate, effective health care delivery. Visit and follow on Twitter at @LownInstitute.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. They are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Margie Coloian, Director of Communications