A new chapter begins for health care data transparency in Washington state

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A new chapter begins for health care data transparency in Washington state

In a victory for health care transparency, the Washington State Legislature, with strong bipartisan support, passed a bill to establish a functional, state-mandated All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), which is a good step forward in giving health care purchasers and consumers more information about pricing among health care providers in our state. I want to thank Senator Randi Becker and Representative Eileen Cody for their leadership. And kudos to the Coalition for Health Care Cost Transparency, which represents a broad set of stakeholders, for coming together in the spirit of collaboration and public service to design a bill that meets the diverse needs and interests in our health care market. I also want to thank Governor Inslee, who will be signing the bill on May 14th, for being a champion of health care transparency in our state.

This legislation requires the selection of a “lead organization” through a competitive RFP process. Our hope is to be selected as the “lead organization,” which will allow us to leverage the Alliance’s technical expertise to build upon the current voluntary data warehouse and create a more comprehensive data base for our state that includes cost information. By doing so, we can move forward with measuring additional aspects of health care value. For example, we would like to report on:

  • regional health costs and patterns of care across the state;
  • total cost of care by health condition, type of procedure or treatment by geographic area; and
  • high-value systems or “centers of excellence” for particular types of care.

Transparency and performance measurement embraced across the state

The timing couldn’t be better for this legislation to pass. I just returned from meeting with several communities in central Washington to talk about our work, the Community Checkup and other Alliance reports. It was apparent that there is a strong appetite for transparency in the communities we visited, and that organizations are already embracing measurement as a tool to improve performance.

We also heard about efforts to form nine new accountable communities of health (ACHs) which will focus on improving population health through locally focused efforts that will be built upon public-private partnerships across the state. We look forward to partnering with these new groups. We are also excited that the next Community Checkup will include measure results organized by ACH for the state’s new Common Measure Set on Healthcare Quality.

Hard work ahead

With the successful passage of the APCD bill as well as the kickoff of the Healthier Washington initiative, we are ready to advance transparency to a new level in our state. The Alliance is celebrating our tenth anniversary this year, and it has been an incredibly busy and exciting start. We will continue to update you on this work and invite you to be part of it. Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support.

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