April 2018 Letter from the Executive Director: Taking Action on Health Waste Calculator Results

In February, the Alliance released “First, Do No Harm,” our report on unnecessary health care in Washington state. The report used the MedInsight Health Waste Calculator to quantify wasteful care and estimated costs associated with it. We’re pleased that the report has been received with enthusiasm by members and stakeholders across the state. However, our work does not stop with the publication of the report.

The Alliance’s Quality Improvement Committee reviewed and discussed results from the report with the goal of targeting specific measures for improvement. Consensus formed around focusing interventions and strategies to reduce wasteful pre-operative baseline laboratory studies, EKG, chest X-ray and pulmonary function testing prior to low-risk surgery.

Our report found that more than 108,000 people received preoperative lab studies prior to low-risk surgery, but those studies were wasteful for 85% of individuals and cost an estimated $86 million in unnecessary spending. Preoperative EKG, chest x-ray and pulmonary function testing was wasteful for 20% of individuals and cost an estimated $6.4 million in unnecessary spending.

These are areas where Alliance members felt that actions could be taken that would provide a tangible result. This work will be done in conjunction with the Washington State Choosing Wisely Task Force, a group of more than 20 clinician leaders from Washington state health care organizations. In addition, both the Bree Collaborative and the Foundation for Health Care Quality have expressed their desire to work together on these efforts.

While we’re still in the early stages of taking action, I’m excited to see our members coming together and using our reports as the basis for improving the health system. Data alone isn’t going to bring down the cost of care or improve health care quality. That’s why the Alliance’s unique structure is so vital: we produce groundbreaking reports and convene motivated stakeholders and members who work together to take demonstrable action.

Thank you for joining us in these efforts and we look forward to reporting on our progress in future newsletters.


Nancy A. Giunto
Executive Director
Washington Health Alliance

Published: April 3, 2018

About Nancy A. Giunto

Nancy A. Giunto is executive director of the Washington Health Alliance. Ms. Giunto served 14 years as executive director of Foster Pepper law firm in Seattle. She has had a long career in health care, with experience at National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C. and the American Hospital Association. She has held leadership positions at Intermountain Health Care and Providence Health & Services.

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