Time for Tintinnabulation

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Time for Tintinnabulation

We have a tradition in the Alliance office, the “ringing of the bell.” Whenever we have a significant achievement, we ring a bell and gather together for just a moment to appreciate it. Over the last year, the bell has been ringing virtually and I would like to highlight some of the successes in 2020, and to foretell the chimes we plan to hear in 2021.

We released two Community Checkup reports last year and are on schedule for another release in Q1 2021. We introduced the Quality Composite Score, a more nuanced and sophisticated way to compare quality in Washington state than we have used before. This year, we will work with our member organizations to expand this methodology to include a cost dimension, allowing us to report on the overall value of care.

The Alliance released a comprehensive spending trend analysis that identified the influences on the cost of 287 hospital inpatient treatments across the state, with results that can be viewed by hospital, and diagnostic categories last year. We appreciate the assistance of hospital leaders as well as health plans and self-insured purchasers who entrust us with sensitive financial data, to prepare this type of analysis. This year, we plan to develop a total cost of care report and prioritize other financial reporting opportunities such as primary care spending.

We leveraged the First, Do No Harm report series on low-value care, as well as the ongoing work we do to report on high-value care in the Community Checkup, to create the Driving Value initiative, made possible with $350,000 in support from Arnold Ventures. This support enables us to work with a group of self-insured purchaser members of the Alliance, representing more than 550,000 members across the state, to improve the value of care received by their plan participants. The Driving Value project provides purchaser members the opportunity to benefit individually within their own organizations, as well as to have a collective impact by working collaboratively with each other as well as with providers and health plan leaders across the state to propel action. We are “the tip of the spear” in this kind of purchaser-led multi-stakeholder collaboration, according to our external advisor to the project, Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, who leads the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan. This effort is already attracting national attention with this innovative approach. Stay tuned as we publish updates on our progress and learnings from this endeavor.

The Alliance’s Board of Directors encourages us to get beyond simply reporting on issues and to drive our work to action. Modeling this commitment, they initiated a new project to reduce the use of opioids for acute dental and low-back pain within and between all of the organizations represented on the Board. This is a sizable undertaking, as the Board represents 133,000 employees with close to 4,000 providers, and a total of nearly 4 million insured lives. The Board has set the benchmarks and reduction targets, and we are now working with stakeholders to implement specific interventions to reduce opioid use.

Building on our waste work, the Consumer Education Committee (CEC) created a “More Isn’t Always Better” campaign with posters and social media messaging and developed new educational materials focused on COVID-19, including guidance on managing chronic conditions, contact tracing, and whether a patient should seek in-person care. The CEC will support the Board opioid and Driving Value projects by creating educational materials to help change consumer behavior.

The Alliance is connected nationally through participation in research efforts such as the Off-Site COVID -19 Testing Tool Kit. We are well-positioned to influence change across the U.S. given our position on national boards, workgroups, and committees of purchaser and other multi-stakeholder coalitions and are frequently called up to speak at statewide, regional, and national events. We supported our purchaser members on a national discussion about cannabis in the workplace, and presented at the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions and the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement national convenings. Over the next year, we will facilitate conversations between purchasers and providers as part of the eValue8™ process, to measure health plan quality across the state. We’ll look for many other opportunities to bring our members together through topics central to our mission of health and health care transparency and improvement.

Undeterred by social distancing requirements, we expanded virtual opportunities with five webinars on diverse topics from helping to understand the impacts of COVID-19 to how we can each take steps to improve value-based care in 2021. This year, we will continue to support the transition to value-based care with a year-long effort to inform purchasers, plans, providers and patients of ways they can engage and contribute. The first of our four-part “Framework for Action” webinar series is scheduled for January 21, 2021 at 11 am to 12:30 pm PST. Register here for “From Impossible to Implementation: Mobilizing Collective Action Around Social Determinants of Health,” brought to you by the Alliance and Bree Collaborative, sponsored by Cambia Grove. For a list and link to all of the Alliance’s previous webinar recordings, visit our member portal.

In 2020, we witnessed the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the massive outcry from the racial injustice that continues to permeate our society. We also saw that disparity reflected in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate effect on Black, Indigenous, People of Color. At the Alliance, we will be working to identify and confront data gaps and enable the inclusion of health equity and Social Determinants of Health factors in our reporting.

As I close, I hear a tintinnabulation of the Alliance bell. Learn your first new word of the year–tintinnabulation means the ringing or sounding of bells.

Thanks for your remarkable support as we start our 17th year. I know that our collaborative efforts will make it the best one yet.

All the best,

Nancy A. Giunto

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