The 15th Community Checkup to be Released
The priority for most of us is stopping the devastation of COVID-19 and seeing that vaccine distribution is accelerated. With your support, the Alliance is also holding firm to our mission of working to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Washington state by reducing overuse, underuse, and misuse of health care services, concerns that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
I’m pleased to announce that the Alliance’s latest Community Checkup will be released in March. We have been on this road for some time together. To give some context, the first Community Checkup was produced in 2008; the same year Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and caused a record-setting drop in the Dow Jones of 778 points, the first Marvel Comic film, Iron Man, appeared in theaters, and the SuperSonics departed Seattle for Oklahoma City. A lot has changed since then. Last March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Dow Jones dropped 2,997 points and then turned the corner to set a new record, there are now 23 Marvel Comic movies, the Seattle Storm is the national women’s basketball champion, and this is the 15th Community Checkup.
In the first Community Checkup, we analyzed medical claims for approximately 1.6 million people at about 150 clinic locations in King, Kitsap, Pierce, Thurston, and Snohomish counties with data supplied by the 14 Alliance members shown in the table below.
|Carpenters Trusts of Western Washington||Premera Blue Cross|
|City of Seattle||Recreational Equipment, Inc.|
|Community Health Plan of Washington||Regence Blue Shield|
|First Choice||Retail Clerks|
|Group Health (now Kaiser Permanente)||The Boeing Company|
|King County||Washington Mutual|
|Molina Healthcare of Washington||Washington State Health Care Authority|
The courage of these initial pioneers set the stage for public reporting and propelled us to where we are today. In this Community Checkup, we analyze medical claims for about 4 million people from more than 25 health plans, self-insured employers, union trusts, and government agencies receiving care at 1,896 clinics. I’m proud to say that nearly all of our original pioneers have been consistent partners on this journey as we’ve grown through the years. Other noteworthy features in this release include:
- Expanded Quality Composite Score Results. Now, you can not only compare clinics, medical groups, counties, and Accountable Communities of Health on up to 29 measures considered strong indicators of quality primary care, but you can see exactly how each entity performs on each measure, compare it to other entities, and to the state average. This is unprecedented detail for providers to compare their performance, for purchasers to see who the higher performers are, and for plans to consider in value-based payment decision making.
- Statewide Opioid Prescribing Practices. When considering opioid prescribing practices, the number of days prescribed and the dose level (MME/day) are important indicators. Looking at the first 3 quarters of 2020, we find that 90% of new opioid prescriptions in the state were written for 7 days or less (223,074) compared to those for 8 days or more (24,618). Despite this encouraging indication, there is still wide variation in high-dose prescription rates (>90 MME/day) with some counties more than double the state average. That tells us there is room for major improvement by some providers.
- Commercial and Medicaid Insurance Disparities. Nowhere are population differences more evident than when we look at statewide performance compared with National Committee of Quality Assurance (NCQA) HEDIS national 90th percentile benchmarks for the commercial and Medicaid-insured populations. But for one important preventive care measure that has profound implications for patients with diabetes and others, some providers are not only meeting the 90th percentile benchmark, they are beating it by a significant margin, indicating the opportunity for significant change across the state. We show these results for a variety of measures in our special highlight on Variation in Health Care.
- Putting the Community Checkup Results Into Action. This edition provides practical tips on multiple ways health insurance plans, health care professionals, and purchasers, including employers and union trusts and their advisors, can put these Community Checkup results to work right now, to improve the quality of care delivered across Washington state.
Unwarranted variation in care that falls below national standards and does not follow strong scientific evidence hurts Washingtonians. The Community Checkup is a great tool to highlight opportunities for improvement in health care quality in our state.
I look forward to working with you to improve our performance in this area and in all that we tackle together.
All the best,
Published: March 3, 2021