Two professional bodies have also called for a “bold and visionary” approach to ensure the health service is “fit for purpose”.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland and the Royal College of Nursing Scotland said tough spending decisions were required reported BBC.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said substantial improvements had been made.
“Targets” is one of four areas in which the health professionals said a new approach was needed.
A joint statement by the royal collages said: “The current approach to setting and reporting on national targets and measures, while having initially delivered some real improvements, is now creating an unsustainable culture that pervades the NHS.
“It is often skewing clinical priorities, wasting resources and focusing energy on too many of the wrong things.
“As a matter of urgency, there needs to be a more mature approach to how the NHS uses targets, standards and other performance measures to ensure better and sustainable outcomes across the health service.”
The royal colleges also called for a “frank debate” about the pressures the health service is under, new models for delivering care to ease pressure on hospitals and improved collaboration between health professions.
RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “Tinkering around the edges and simply putting more and more money into the current system is not the answer.”
She said a public debate needs to take place about the future of the NHS.
Academy chairman Ian Ritchie said: “We’re seeing day in, day out the immense pressure which the NHS is under as patient demand and public expectations soar, and funding is unable to keep up, even with increases in the NHS budget.”
Ms Robison insisted the Scottish government had delivered record staffing and funding.
The health secretary also highlighted plans to integrate health and social care to shift the balance from hospitals to the community.