Addressing unequal health care in Washington

We want high quality, affordable health care for everyone – whatever their race, ethnicity, financial status, gender or where they live. But we know that who you are can affect the care that you get. That’s a particular issue for minority communities, where some people not only experience higher rates of disease, but also don’t receive all the care they need when they need it the most. We can do better.

The Alliance’s third Disparities in Care report – which reveals disparities in health care due to race, ethnicity, language and socioeconomic status – will be released next month.  Findings reveal that disparities are a continuing problem in Washington. For example, children ages 2-6 aren’t getting access to the right amount of care they need at a critical time in their development, and colon cancer screenings for adults are not being performed at adequate rates, meaning the disease may not be caught at an early stage when it is more easily treated. However, the findings do show improved rates over time for diabetic blood sugar testing, meaning more people are getting screened early for diabetes, a disease that if treated early can be much better managed. We hope the findings will provide a call to action that will lead to effective quality improvement efforts to improve the health of all the people in our state.

New partnership with Qualis

In addition to this report, the Alliance is excited to be working on a separate joint report between the Alliance and Qualis Health that will take a look at diabetes care in Washington state. For the first time, the report will look at disparities in care for both Medicaid and Medicare enrollees.  As a result, we will now have a more complete view of public payers in Washington, and how providers and communities serving both these populations can better target improvement efforts for diabetic patients. This is a new type of report for the Alliance, and we look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Health plans address disparities in care

The Alliance is also hosting a discussion on September 11 from 10 am–12 pm at Cambia Grove for medical directors and quality leaders about disparities in care. The meeting will include a panel of health plan leaders who will share how their organizations are working to address health inequity. The role of health plans in improving disparities is rapidly evolving, especially in light of health plan accreditation requirements and increased performance-based contracts that are reliant on effective population health management strategies. Participants will leave with a better understanding of health plan priorities and ideas of how provider organizations and health plans can align and support efforts to collaboratively improve disparities in Washington state. Register for the meeting.

Posted in: Disparities in Care

Published: August 11, 2015

About Washington Health Alliance

The Washington Health Alliance is a place where stakeholders work collaboratively to transform Washington state’s health care system for the better. The Alliance brings together organizations that share a commitment to drive change in our health care system by offering a forum for critical conversation and aligned efforts by stakeholders: purchasers, providers, health plans, consumers and other health care partners. The Alliance believes strongly in transparency and offers trusted and credible reporting of progress on measures of health care quality and value. The Alliance is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 185 member organizations. A cornerstone of the Alliance's work is the Community Checkup, a report to the public comparing the performance of medical groups, hospitals and health plans and offering a community-level view on important measures of health care quality (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).

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