Letter from the Executive Director: All health care is local

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Letter from the Executive Director: All health care is local

Photo of Nancy Giunto.
Thank you to our members for their support of the Community Checkup.

The Alliance knows that health care is local and we are always excited to visit leaders in the communities where they work and live to see health care in action. This is why the Alliance hosts community meetings throughout the year to talk about public reporting and our flagship report, the Community Checkup. Not only is it an opportunity for those unfamiliar with our work to learn more about us, but it is also an opportunity for us to hear from those using our data and doing the hard work of quality improvement.

In March, the Alliance hosted three community meetings to share results from the 2014 Community Checkup in regions that are new to Alliance reporting. In the three counties we visited―Skagit, Spokane and Whatcom—I was encouraged to find such enthusiasm for transparency. It seemed that everyone understood the value of public reporting of health care quality.

Attendees of the community meetings represented diverse interests: health care providers, public health, law enforcement, foundations and community organizations. The diversity of the participants in these meetings illustrates one of the Alliance’s core operating principles—working together, we can create the system change we would never be able to achieve individually. Our hope is that the Community Checkup can inspire crucial conversations within the provider community that will lead to changes that make health care better and more affordable. From what we have heard through meetings with providers across the state, these conversations are happening and leading to better care delivery for patients.

The Community Checkup provides a community-level view of our health care system, which can help set benchmarks. But it is the people making health care decisions—the health care providers, public health officers, employers, health plans and patients—who use the data to make improvements for their own communities and organizations. In the community meetings, we heard about some exciting initiatives to reduce hospital readmissions and avoidable emergency room visits, to increase consumer engagement in health care and other projects that aim to improve the quality of health care in those counties. We also heard there is a need to support community needs assessments and Accountable Communities of Health, the newly-formed, multi-sector partnerships sponsored by the Washington State Health Care Authority. We look forward to supporting the work of these “front-line workers” who are leading us toward a healthier Washington.

I want to extend a big thank you to the sponsoring organizations, Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement, Better Health Together, North Sound Accountable Community of Health and Population Health Trust of Skagit County, who hosted the community meetings. We are also grateful to two of our Board members who live in the communities we visited, Nancy Steiger, (Chief Executive Officer and Chief Mission Officer of PeaceHealth Northwest Network) and Jeff Collins, MD (PHC Physician Chief Executive, Providence Health & Services) who participated actively in the meetings and helped us welcome community members.

We couldn’t do any of our work without the support of organizations like these who help us build relationships with local communities. And thank you to our members, both renewing and new, without whom we could not deliver the Community Checkup.

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