Realistic medicine is about providing the healthcare that people really value.

The core pillars of realistic medicine are:

  • Building a personalised approach to care
  • Shared decision making
  • Reduce harm and waste
  • Managing risk better
  • Tackle unwarranted variation
  • Become improvers and innovators

You can use the toolkit to access resources for practice and learning across all these pillars of realistic medicine.  Each pillar is organised to present resources of increasing depth.  For example, learning resources for a particular pillar might start with a basic definition, then lead you on to some reflection, critical evaluation, applying a skill in practice, and teaching others. Quick access is provided to resources that will be useful for patient care.

Have a look at the following introductory resources, and think about how you could apply these pillars of realistic medicine in your own place of work and discuss with colleagues if you can. 

Check your learning with this bite-size quiz


Realistic Medicine Conference 2023: Sustainable Care that Matters

We are pleased to announce that the Realistic Medicine Annual Conference will be held at the Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow on 25 April 2023. The conference will provide an excellent opportunity to hear from a range of speakers on the themes of Value Based Health & Care, sustainability and health inequalities, as well as an opportunity to meet and network with fellow Realistic Medicine colleagues.

Programme and registration details can be found on the realistic medicine website.

Realistic medicine website

Realistic medicine champions

Realistic Medicine is a way of thinking about healthcare that seeks to ensure that the tests, treatment and interventions that we provide are beneficial and suitable for each person; and that treatment that is harmful, unlikely to be effective and wasteful, is avoided. It focuses on the core relationship between those who provide care and those who receive it and emphasises the importance of carefully listening to what is important to each person.

 In practice this means that the fundamental principles of Realistic Medicine (improving Shared Decision Making and Personalised care, Reducing Harm and Waste and Unwarranted Variation as well as Managing Risk Better in a climate of continued Improvement and Innovation) are widely publicised and that resources to help staff achieve these goals are easily available.

What is a realistic medicine champion?A Realistic Medicine Champion works with their colleagues to help promote Realistic Medicine at the front line, offering advice and information to help empower staff to adopt the fundamental principles. They will help promote a positive RM culture within their health board and across NHS Scotland. Our champions recognise Realistic medicine in practice and showcase success and support teams beginning their journey.

Why do we need RM champions?Champions are key to a successful change process. These are the people within an organisation who see the vision for change and want to actively advocate for and support the changes. They bring the message closer to the clinical workforce. Champions can be from any level within the organisation and champions from multiple levels and disciplines are encouraged.

What does an RM champion have to do?

If you are an RM Champion you will:

  • Be part of a network of similarly enthusiastic people who act as a vital link between the RM steering group and the clinical teams
  • Promote and help to create a positive RM culture within your health board
  • Support members of the team in best practice (or directing them to the RM Team if you are unsure)
  • Provide feedback to the RM Champions Network Team and Steering Group on behalf of your colleagues
  • Distribute communication from the RM Team to your colleagues
  • Collaborate with colleagues across your health board to share best practice
  • Stay up to date with all RM developments and share these with your colleagues

Why become an RM champion?

By becoming an RM champion you will be helping deliver excellent person-centred care, assist colleagues in reducing harm, waste and unwarranted variation and help drive innovation and improvement. It is also a great opportunity for your personal development.

Champions will be able to develop their knowledge and skills through:

  •  Access to RM training and resources through the RM Champion Network
  • Representing colleagues in feedback forums
  • Helping shape training for colleagues
  • Opportunities to pursue quality improvement projects within teams regarding RM
  • Support from the RM Team
  •  Support from fellow RM Champions

To find out how to become a realistic medicine champion consult the information for your local health board.


The realistic medicine team

Find out who your realistic medicine lead is.

Keeping up to date

A quarterly bulletin, produced by NHS Scotland librarians, compiles evidence relevant to the '6 Pillars' of Realistic Medicine.

To find out more view the realistic medicine bulletin.

Source: The Knowledge Network (NHS Forth Valley, The State Hospital and NHS Tayside)

Audience: all health and social care staff

Access: free online reosurce

Last reviewed: 28/03/2023

Next review date: 31/03/2024

Reviewer name(s): NES Realistic Medicine Team.