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Reporting on Pricing a Critical Step in Alliance’s Promotion of Transparency

At the Alliance, we define high-value health care as high quality and good patient experience at a fair price. Over the past eleven years, and with the help and support of our valued members, the Alliance has developed a well-established reputation for public reporting of objective, trustworthy quality and patient experience results. Building upon this successful foundation, we are now preparing to move on to the third component of value: price. The combination of cost, quality and patient experience will enable the market to understand overall value in health care.

I’m pleased to report that the Alliance began receiving pricing data last month, an exciting milestone for us. This advance is the product of careful, thoughtful conversations among our key stakeholders and with input from our committee structure. Aetna, Asuris Northwest Health, First Choice, Kaiser Permanente Washington, Lifewise Health Plan of Washington, Premera Blue Cross and Regence BlueShield have all included price data in their regular data submissions to the Alliance. All of the self-funded purchasers who submit data to the Alliance have also provided us with this price data (for example, the Association of Washington Cities, the Boeing Company and King County). I am pleased to report that not only are we receiving pricing data, we are also making good strides in increasing the overall number of data suppliers to the Alliance.

The Alliance relies heavily on collaboration with key stakeholders to guide us in the handling of this new data with the same thoroughness and care that have characterized our public reporting to date. A special workgroup made up of members from the Alliance’s Health Economics and Quality Improvement Committees has been hammering out the details, which are then reviewed by a pricing subcommittee of the Alliance’s Board of Directors. Ultimately, the entire Board reviews and approves the reports, as well as their distribution. Through this process the Alliance Board of Directors has already approved three product types for our initial reports.

Working together to move forward

The entire process ensures that key health care stakeholders in our state—purchasers, providers and health plans—work together as we move forward. Evaluating and communicating about health care pricing is not an easy task, but through this collaboration the Alliance will put data through rigorous analysis and quality controls and work with our committees and our Board of Directors to ensure it is reported fairly and accurately.

Price transparency has been a long time coming. Our stakeholders have told us that it is very important to them and that they trust the Alliance with this responsibility. While purchasers are particularly interested in this information, they are hardly alone. The clinical leaders on our Quality Improvement Committee have been just as supportive. Moreover, both nationally and here in our state, the community-at-large has been moving in this direction for some time. That said, at the Alliance we understand that transparency alone is insufficient to drive positive change in the market. Our entire model is based on not only publishing information, but also regularly convening key stakeholders and helping them to USE information to drive action and improve value.

We know that our quest to achieve the triple aim of better health, better care, and lower cost is incomplete without reporting on all aspects of value. That is why we are so excited by achievement of this milestone in our history of public reporting in Washington state.

We are incredibly thankful to the leadership of so many of our member organizations who have the courage to take this step toward price transparency to help improve health care in Washington. Organizational systems and cultures can be very challenging to change and working together is an essential part of the solution. We are very grateful to those data suppliers that have expressed their trust in us and made a commitment to support the Alliance’s price transparency work going forward.

After more than a decade of promoting health care transparency, it’s time for the Alliance to take this bold next step. We look forward to updating you further in the months to come.

Published: May 16, 2017

About Nancy A. Giunto

Nancy A. Giunto is executive director of 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., the American Hospital Association. She has held leadership positions at Intermountain Health Care and Providence Health & Services.

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