Alliance offers “continuing hope” for higher quality, more affordable health care system

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Alliance offers “continuing hope” for higher quality, more affordable health care system

Since the Alliance’s founding, we have served as a convener, building trust among those who give, get and pay for health care to create change in the health care system. We know the only way we are going to improve health care in our state is to make sure key stakeholders have a seat at the table. The value of the Alliance and its approach was recently recognized in an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (subscription required) as one that offers “continuing hope” that we can reshape our health care system into one that is higher quality and more affordable.

One recent example of the Alliance’s convening role has been the development of the Washington State Common Measure Set for Health Care Quality and Cost. It is intended that use of these measures will enable a common way of tracking health and health care performance as well as inform public and private health care purchasing. The Alliance was honored to be chosen by the Washington State Health Care Authority to facilitate the work of three technical measures work groups that were charged with the responsibility of recommending the measures to be included in the measure set.

In late November, these recommendations were forwarded to the Performance Measures Coordinating Committee (PMCC) a diverse group of representatives appointed by the Governor’s office from health research, medicine, behavioral health, insurance plans, public health, health care practices and specialties, consumer groups, minority populations, the business community and other areas. The PMCC will finalize the recommendations on December 17th and forward them to the Health Care Authority for final action and adoption before the end of the year.

Why does the state need its own measure set? As Elizabeth Mitchell, CEO & President of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement recently stated in their member newsletter, “National information may provide high level guidance but efforts not rooted at the community-level are unlikely to enable real change in care, payment or choice.”  The Alliance, like the Health Care Authority, recognizes that a selection process unique to Washington state is essential to help us to align the multitude of quality reporting efforts currently occurring and meet the needs of our local community.

There has been considerable interest in the development of the Washington State Common Measure Set for Health Care Quality and Cost. The three work groups convened by the Alliance, consisting of 35 subject matter experts, devoted over 400 person hours to the task between July and early December. They reviewed approximately 350 measures in order to narrow the recommendation to 53 measures that fall into three main categories: population health, clinical processes and outcomes and health care cost.

Because the development process was robust, multi-stakeholder and invited public comment, it will be measuring many of the things that matter to our state. And because the work is ongoing, the measure set will be able to flex and adapt to changing conditions to include other priority issues in the future that we were unable to include during this first round. The goal is to begin reporting results based on these measures in late 2015.

We look forward to continuing this work and contributing to a healthier Washington.

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