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Low Back Pain Implementation Collaborative Update

It is estimated that 80% of Americans will have some form of back pain in their lifetime, but not all of them will receive high quality health care to address it. As early as 1985, studies showed the benefits of motion in the healing process and speculation that “help will come in the next decade from a collaborative effort from politicians, industrial leaders and engineers, physicians, psychologists, and biomechanicians.”

Several decades later, that still has not happened. “[B]arriers to optimal evidence-based management include widespread misconceptions of the general public and health professionals about the causes and prognosis of low back pain and the effectiveness of different treatments, fragmented and outdated models of care, and the widespread use of ineffective and harmful care.”

According to Washington Health Alliance data, approximately 72,000 people with low back pain received more than 140,000 low-value services an at estimated cost of nearly $10 million in 2020. In addition, a recent review of social determinants of health across 17 countries showed important associations between gender, race, ethnicity, education, occupation and socioeconomic status and low back pain.

The Alliance’s Low Back Pain Implementation Collaborative (Collaborative) is working to change that, with the official launch held last month. There are 29 participant organizations representing all stakeholders working together with the mission of “advancing the care for all patients with low back pain in Washington state.”

A post-launch survey indicated that all participants in the Collaborative felt the orientation with advisors and breakout sessions was relevant to the needs of their organization and several indicated that they are looking forward to developing a plan in which each stakeholder understands their role in reducing medical waste and to supporting equity and reducing health disparities in the treatment of low back pain.

The Collaborative is supported by the Arnold Ventures’ Provider Payment Incentives Portfolio. For more information on the Collaborative, please contact Alliance Director of Purchaser Strategies Denise Giambalvo.

Published: March 1, 2022

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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