Pausing to Look Back and Setting Our Sights Ahead
The past year has been a bit of a rollercoaster for us at the Washington Health Alliance (Alliance), as we have had some highs, lows, and unexpected twists and turns, as it has likely been for you as well. While relieved that vaccinations and boosters have made their way into many people’s arms, we continue to face the challenges posed by new and highly contagious variants. Although it’s hard to predict how 2022 will unfold, I believe it’s important to pause for just a moment to appreciate what we’ve accomplished together, preview coming work and thank you for your support along the way.
- We completed the first phase of our Driving Value Project and released our white paper. We appreciate the purchaser members (employers and union trusts) who made the work possible and the purchasers, plans, providers, and other allies who are joining the next phase of the effort to take ways to enhance low back care and make measurable improvement across the state, in a new project called the Low Back Implementation Collaborative (Low Back PIC). The project launches officially on February 3rd and to date we have commitment to drive change from 11 purchasers, 3 commercial insurance plans, 5 large provider groups, and several important other voices including the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and the America Physical Therapy Association. Please reach out to Strategic Project Coordinator Teresa Battels, if you would like join this groundbreaking work.
- With our latest Community Checkup, we expanded our Quality Composite Scores, to show side-by-side comparisons of performance for medical groups and clinics through aggregated scores across four areas. We continued our work providing transparency on health plan performance with eValue8™. It is worth noting that two Alliance members, Cigna and Kaiser Permanente Washington were recognized nationally for their innovative practices to support patients by the national eValue8™ Looking ahead, we will expand the Quality Composite Score to incorporate cost and that will enable us to report on health care value.
- We worked to increase adoption of value-based payment through our “Framework for Action” webinar series with the Bree Collaborative and hundreds of participants joined us during 2021. We hope you will join us for the next phase of that work in the coming year with our “Change in Action” series on January 27, April 7, July 7, and October 6. Register now for our first installment, “Addressing Social Needs to Build Competent Health Care Systems.”
- We provided valuable learning opportunities to our members on many topics, including the adoption of biosimilars, oncology screening and treatment, increasing primary care spending, reducing the cost of pharmaceuticals, the impact of cannabis in the workplace, an introduction to the Health Care Cost Transparency Board, and the state’s new long-term support and services program, WA Cares.
- The Quality Improvement Committee (QIC) was recognized as a partner by the ABIM Foundation for its Building Trust initiative. The QIC also developed a widely distributed urgent call to action supporting vaccinations that received high commendation from business groups and others across the state.
- The Purchaser Affinity Group (PAG) expressed a unified voice for the need for primary care transformation and worked together to develop five priorities for action in the coming year: health equity and social determinants of health; team-based primary care; integrated behavioral health and telehealth; managing medication costs; price and cost transparency; and evidence-based coverage.
- In recognition of our commitment to becoming an inclusive and anti-racist organization, the Alliance’s Board of Directors established the Alliance’s diversity and inclusion statement and Action Plan for becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization. In 2022, the Alliance will incorporate the Neighborhood Atlas® in our upcoming Community Checkup reporting, so we can begin to quantify the effects of social determinants of health, as one part of our Action Plan.
- Our message of high quality health care was sought after not only in our own state, but also with speaking engagements from Alaska to Washington, DC, and drawing national and international audiences with virtual appearances for organizations in Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Ohio, just to name a few.
While I’m proud of what we accomplished last year, the best is yet to come as we have some important projects on the horizon. Stay tuned for our first Total Cost of Care report for the state, counties and Accountable Communities of Health. Those who have previewed our results have called them “impressive,” and “exciting.” We will follow with results on the medical group and clinic-level for even more groundbreaking work in 2022.
As always, I deeply appreciate your support and trust in our journey together to improve health care in Washington state. If you have any questions or suggestions, I hope you will reach out to me by email or 206.454.2951.
Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy 2022!
Published: January 3, 2022