Washington Health Alliance releases first results for Washington Common Measure Set for Health Care Quality and Cost


Key element of Healthier Washington initiative allows for common understanding of areas for improvement and enables moving the market toward value-based purchasing

Widespread variation common, impacting the quality of care Washingtonians receive

SEATTLE, December 8, 2015 – The Washington Health Alliance (Alliance) and the Washington State Health Care Authority today released the first results for the Washington State Common Measure Set for Health Care Quality and Cost, a set of 52 measures that enable a common way of tracking important elements of health and how well the health care system is performing. The results, which are foundational to the Alliance’s Community Checkup, show that, despite some successes, Washington falls far short of the Alliance’s and HCA’s vision that the state will be in the top 10 percent nationally in the delivery of high-quality health care.

The Common Measure Set is an important element in the state’s ambitious Healthier Washington initiative which strives to make the Triple Aim—better health, better care and lower cost—a reality in Washington. Generously funded by a grant from the federal government, Healthier Washington has a goal of transforming health care in Washington State so that people experience better health during their lives, receive better health care when they need it and health care is more affordable and accessible.

“Making Washington a national leader in the delivery of health care is no small task,” said Nancy A. Giunto, executive director of the Alliance. “Achieving that goal will require the effort of all of the stakeholders in the health care system: providers, health plans, purchasers and consumers. To know how far we have to go to reach that goal requires the kind of transparency from performance measurement and reporting that is the hallmark of the Community Checkup.”

Among the key findings of the report:

  • Washington has a long way to go to be in the top 10 percent of performance nationally in the delivery of high-quality health care. For example, for the commercially insured population well-child visits for children ages 3-6 years is below the national 25th percentile, indicating that many children are not getting the regular health care screenings that they should.
  • Variation by county, medical group and clinic is a persistent problem in the delivery of health care.
  • Too many patients in Washington are not receiving the evidence-based care that they need to remain healthy and manage their conditions. For example, flu vaccination rates display an almost two-fold difference between the lowest performing county and the highest.
  • For many measures, there has been little improvement over time and some past successes may be eroding. In recent Community Checkup reports, the avoidance of imaging for low-back pain was above the national 90th However, now the state result for this measure is between the 75thand 90th percentile.
  • Local successes, such as the concerted effort to reduce early elective deliveries, prove that delivering high-quality health care is an achievable goal here in Washington when we focus and work together.
  • The Common Measure Set and transparency help us to collectively understand our current performance and target areas for improvement.

“Measurement is essential, but measurement alone will not transform our health care system,” said Dorothy Teeter, director of the Washington State Health Care Authority. “That’s why the Common Measure Set was designed to be actionable. The HCA, as first mover, has already taken steps to incorporate the Common Measure Set into its contracts with health plans and provider organizations.”

Washington is among the first states to establish a common measure set. The measures enable a shared understanding of areas that should be targeted for improvement. We anticipate results from the measures will be used to inform health care purchasing by public entities, such as state, county and city government, as well as private companies.

The Common Measure Set was the result of a six-month process that involved over 100 stakeholders from across the state. The version of the Common Measure Set in this report is referred to as the “starter set” and is considered the first iteration. Over time, the Common Measure Set will continue to evolve.

Over time, the expectation is that private and other public purchasers as well as health plans will adopt the Common Measure Set, building the measures directly into value-based health care contracts with doctors and hospitals. As part of the Healthier Washington initiative, Washington aims to drive 80 percent of state-financed health care and 50 percent of the commercial market to value-based payment by 2020, meaning payment that is tied to quality and outcomes and not just volume.

The measures are focused on access to primary care, prevention, acute care and chronic care. Results are drawn from a variety of sources. Depending on the measure, results may be available for medical groups and clinics, and/or hospitals. For the first time this year, performance results are being publicly shared for health insurance plans serving both the Medicaid-insured and commercially-insured populations. Many measure results are also available for counties, Accountable Communities of Health (ACHs) and on a statewide basis, while other measures are reported only at the statewide level.

The Common Measure Set results are part of the ninth version of the Alliance’s Community Checkup. Since it was first introduced in 2008, the Community Checkup has grown both in terms of the number of medical groups, clinics and hospitals included and in terms of its geographic reach. Included this year are medical group and clinic level results (with four or more providers) for 14 of the state’s 39 counties, including six counties with detailed results for the first time. In 2016, the Alliance anticipates having results for medical groups and clinics with four or more providers for all of Washington.

Media Contacts:

  • John Gallagher, Washington Health Alliance, 206.454.2957, jgallagher@wahealthalliance.org
  • Amy Blondin, Washington State Health Care Authority, 360.725.1915, amy.blondin@hca.wa.gov

About the 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).

About Healthier Washington

Healthier Washington will transform health care in Washington State so that people experience better health during their lives, receive better care when they need it, and care is more affordable and accessible.

Healthier Washington is in the early stages of a five-year Health Care Innovation Plan that has brought together hundreds of people from many communities to put the best solutions to work for the people of our state. This work will improve the quality of life for everyone regardless of their income, education or background. The Healthier Washington initiative will:

  1. Build healthier communities and people through prevention and early attention to disease
  2. Integrate care and social supports for individuals who have both behavioral and physical health needs
  3. Reward quality health care over quantity, with state government leading by example as Washington’s largest purchaser of health care

The effort to transform Washington’s health care system is one of the largest efforts of its kind and guided by the principle that no one individual or organization alone can make it happen. Working together, we can achieve better health and better care at lower cost for Washington’s residents.

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