Everyone has a role to play in addressing the problem of overuse

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Everyone has a role to play in addressing the problem of overuse

The Alliance has set as a priority strategic goal reducing overuse of health care services in our state. With unnecessary medical procedures accounting for almost 30 percent of health care spending, addressing this issue could help us make huge strides toward a higher value health care system. To advance that goal, we recently unveiled results from three new reports, each focused on potentially avoidable overuse of health care services: a report on geographic variation of procedure rates, a report on potentially avoidable ER visits and a report on hospital readmissions within 30 days. These are the latest in the Alliance’s expanding line of reports to provide greater insight into the challenges and successes in our health care system.

While we focused on particular measures, this is by no means a comprehensive view of overuse in our state nor do they address why the overuse exists. But, it does reveal patterns—that in certain geographical areas, certain procedures are delivered more often. When we see geographic variation, studies have shown that it points to overuse. These reports also reveal that even though there has been great work done by both providers and the medical and hospital associations to reduce hospital readmission rates and unnecessary visits to the emergency room, Washington still has room for improvement.

Everyone has a role to play in addressing the problem of overuse and waste in our health care system. Our hope is that by making this data available, we can inspire providers to examine their own practice patterns and for purchasers to be more empowered when designing benefit plans and communicating with their employees about their health care options.

We will report again later this year on readmissions, medical procedure use rates and avoidable emergency room use as well as other health care quality measures. We are also continuing to advocate for better price transparency through an All-Payer Claims Database. Our next Community Checkup report will be published in early spring. We look forward to sharing these results with our community, and helping all stakeholders move toward care that better benefits all Washingtonians.

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