1

press

Washington Health Alliance releases 2013 Community Checkup results

Puget Sound Health Alliance’s new name reflects move to statewide quality reporting

The Washington Health Alliance (the Alliance) today unveiled its new name and released its first Community Checkup to include health care quality results for the entire state. To reflect its expansion beyond its original five-county region, the Alliance, formerly known as the Puget Sound Health Alliance, has changed its name and will be reaching out to stakeholders around the state.

“Going statewide is a natural progression for the Alliance,” said Mary McWilliams, the Alliance’s executive director. “Thanks to the investment our members and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have made in the Alliance, we have been able to build a strong multi-stakeholder collaborative with the proven capability to deliver valuable performance measurement reports.”

“We recognize that many communities across Washington have undertaken major efforts to improve the quality of care patients receive. We also realize that public reporting may be a new and challenging concept for many, as it was in the Puget Sound region when the Community Checkup was first introduced,” Ms. McWilliams continued. “To become an organization that is truly reflective of the entire state, the Alliance is committed to working with communities in a way that respects the work already underway around the state and the concerns that some stakeholders may have about performance measurement undertaken by an organization from elsewhere in the state.”

The 2013 Community Checkup, the seventh such report issued by the Alliance since 2008, reports on 31 measures of quality and appropriateness of outpatient health care. The measures fall into areas of prevention, chronic disease management, generic drug prescribing and appropriate use of services. As in past reports, the current report provides some performance results only at the regional level. But for 21 of the measures, the Alliance provides detailed results for 85 medical groups and 305 clinics of four or more providers in the five-county Puget Sound region—King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties.

In addition, this year’s report includes county-wide data for all 39 Washington counties. The report includes data on care for 2.9 million patients in Washington who are covered by commercial insurance and Medicaid for the period from July 2011 to June 2012. The Alliance plans to report at the medical group level in two additional population centers in its 2014 Community Checkup report.

The Community Checkup results highlight the fact that variation remains a stubborn problem in the delivery of quality care. Even in measures where the standard of care is well established, such as for diabetes, the range in performance among medical groups is surprisingly wide.

Among other findings of the report:

  • The region has proven that it can be among the best in the country. On two measures—avoidance of imaging for low back pain and avoidance of antibiotics for colds—the region is at or even above the national 90th percentile benchmark. Excellence is just beyond reach for a handful of other measures.
  • Movement over time is modest. Results for some measures have improved somewhat over time, and a few have declined, but none has shown dramatic improvement.
  • Everyone has the opportunity to do better. No medical group, clinic or county is good at everything. Improvement in regional results doesn’t depend on just a few; it is incumbent on everyone to continually improve the quality of care delivered to patients.

The importance of performance measurement was underscored by a national report released Tuesday by the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3), a nonprofit focused on improving health care quality and value. HCI3 awarded Washington one of only two “A” grades in its “State Report Card on Transparency of Physician Quality Reporting.” The Alliance’s Community Checkup report, along with its patient experience survey report, formed the basis for the state’s score.

In conjunction with its new name, the Alliance also re-launched its new organizational website, www.wahealthalliance.org The site includes a new design with increased functionality, including an event calendar and RSS feed to alert participants to news from the Alliance.

About The Washington Health Alliance

As a purchaser-led, multi-stakeholder collaborative with more than 165 participants, the Washington Health Alliance is committed to leading health system change in Washington state. The Alliance has a bold vision: by 2017 physicians, other providers and hospitals in the region will achieve the top 10 percent in performance nationally in the delivery of quality, evidence-based care and in the reduction of unwarranted variation, resulting in a significant reduction in medical cost trends. To achieve this goal, it will require the aligned efforts of those who give, get and pay for health care. A cornerstone of the Alliance’s work is the Community Checkup, a regional report to the public comparing the performance of clinics and hospitals for basic measures of quality care (www.wacommunitycheckup.org). The Alliance is a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality communities.

Contact:

Mary McWilliams, Executive Director, mary@wahealthalliance.org, 206.454-2951

Susie Dade Deputy Director, sdade@wahealthalliance.org, 206.454-2956

Issued December 13, 2013