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Highlights

The first step to improving the health care system is measuring it so you know what to improve. Using analysis of trustworthy data—we highlight a variety of issues and trends, and share that information here so we can work together to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Washington state.

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2019

Variation of Pricing for Inpatient Treatments in Washington State

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Mar. 2019 — Washington Health Alliance analyzes inpatient treatments with few or no clinical complications to show the wide variation in prices across the state.

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2019

Inpatient Spending Trends in Washington State

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Mar. 2019 — For the first time, the Washington Health Alliance integrates spending trends into its data analysis to help answer the question “How has inpatient spending changed over time and why?”

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2019

2018 eValue8 Results

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Mar. 2019 — Washington Health Alliance partners with employers to release the 2018 eValue8 results comparing health plan performance.

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2018

Calculating Health Care Waste in Washington State (Dec 2018)

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Dec. 2018 — In a new analysis of more than 2 million patients across the state who received a health care service known to be commonly overused, the Washington Health Alliance found that nearly half of the patients received care that is considered low value, or wasteful. That overuse of care amounted to an estimated $341 million in unnecessary health care spending in one year.

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2018

Opioids in Washington State (Dec 2018)

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Dec. 2018 — The opioid epidemic is widely recognized as a national crisis and a priority public health concern. In 2018, three new measures on opioid use were approved for the Washington State Common Measure Set on Health Care Quality and Cost. Learn more about opioid prescribing patterns in Washington state by viewing the findings here

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2018

Medical Groups in Washington: Comparing Overall Performance

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Dec. 2018 — Each year, as part of the Community Checkup report, we rank medical groups based on their quality measure results. But we know that patient experience is also a fundamental part of the quality equation. In this new highlight, medical groups are ranked based on their combined results from the patient experience survey (all five publicly reported measures) and quality measures to give a more complete picture of their performance.

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2018

2018 Health Care Spending in Washington State

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Dec. 2018 — Health care is expensive and getting more so. To better understand variation in health care costs across Washington and identify opportunities, we need much better access to cost information and it needs to be publicly available to help people make smart choices. As a starting point, it is important to understand what we are currently spending on health care as a state.

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2018

Hospital Value in Washington State

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May 2018 - The Washington Health Alliance’s Hospital Value Report offers a unique perspective on hospital care at the intersection of the three key elements of value: quality, patient experience and price. This combination of factors allows us to view the extraordinary pattern of variation in value across our state and see where some hospitals perform better on important measures. It also refutes the common belief that higher prices always translate into better care and improved outcomes for patients.

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2018

Patient Experience with Primary Care Providers

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Feb. 2018 — “Patient-centeredness” is now widely accepted as a core dimension of health care quality and, as a result, there is heightened market focus on patient experience. Experience of care matters to patients and, for them, is an important differentiator among health care providers. Our latest patient experience survey reports on patient experience with primary care providers across Washington state.

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2018

Exploring Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy Rates

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June 2018 - Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman’s uterus. A hysterectomy may also involve the removal of other organs and tissues such as the ovaries (oophorectomy) and/or fallopian tubes. About 10 percent of hysterectomies are performed to treat cancers of the uterus and other tissue. Less invasive and less expensive treatment options are available for non-cancer related conditions. In Washington, we see a lot of variation in the care that’s delivered, with rates of hysterectomy and oophorectomy that are higher than average in various locations.

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2018

Calculating Health Care Waste in Washington (Feb 2018)

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Feb. 2018 — In a groundbreaking analysis of 1.3 million patients across the state who received a health care service known to be commonly overused, the Washington Health Alliance found that nearly half of the patients received care that is considered low value, or wasteful. That overuse of care amounted to an estimated $282 million in unnecessary health care spending in one year.

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2018

Bariatric Surgery Rates Increasing

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April 2018 — Bariatric surgery, also called weight loss surgery, helps people with extreme obesity to lose weight. It may be an option for people who cannot lose weight through diet and exercise or have serious health problems caused by obesity. All types of bariatric surgery have risks and complications and should be considered carefully. Our latest report shows that rates of bariatric surgery are increasing in Washington state.

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2018

Alcohol Use by Washington Residents

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March 2018 — The Washington Health Alliance was asked by the Governor’s Performance Measures Coordinating Committee to include questions related to alcohol use in this year’s patient experience survey. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends preventive alcohol screening followed by brief interventions for adults drinking at risky levels, because rigorous trials have shown that brief interventions decrease drinking in patients drinking at unhealthy levels.

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2018

Variation in C-Section Rates

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Feb. 2018 — When medically necessary, such as during a complicated birth, a C-section can help save the life of mother and/or baby. However, nearly one-third of all babies in the U.S. are born via C-section, and this is well above what most experts consider medically necessary. Learn about the C-section rates in Washington state.

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2017

Overuse of the Emergency Room

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Dec. 2017 — Too often patients go to the ER with problems that are not emergencies, such as respiratory infections, earaches or low-back pain. When simple medical concerns that can be treated easily and more cost effectively in a primary care setting or an urgent care clinic end up being treated in the ER, they contribute to waste in the health care system.

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2017

Well-Child Visits

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Dec. 2017 — Well-child visits for babies and during the preschool and early school years are key times for communication between providers and parents. These visits can also help with early identification of health issues and help ensure children get the best possible start to a healthy life. In adolescence, well-care visits help young people as they develop physically, intellectually and emotionally.

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2017

Opioids in Washington State

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Oct. 2017 — The opioid epidemic is widely recognized to be one of the most devastating health care problems facing the nation. Sadly, the epidemic is entirely man-made—a lethal combination of aggressive marketing on the part of pharmaceutical manufacturers, relaxed regulations and policies, and a lack of understanding of the consequences of long-term opioid use. Learn more about opioid prescribing patterns in Washington state.

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2017

Health Care Spending in Washington State

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Dec. 2017 — Health care is expensive and getting more so. To better understand variation in health care costs across Washington and identify opportunities, we need much better access to cost information and it needs to be publicly available to help people make smart choices. As a starting point, it is important to understand what we are currently spending on health care as a state.

See our key findings

2016

Cancer Screenings Vary Widely

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In adulthood, health screenings are an important part of a person’s health regimen. Screenings for breast cancer, colon cancer, and cervical cancer are recommended at appropriate intervals to detect disease at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to succeed and cost you less. However, cancer screenings represent some of the widest swings in performance among medical groups in the Community Checkup.

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2016

Understanding Variation in Health Care

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Most people assume that no matter where they live or where they go for health care, it will always be the same quality. Unfortunately, as the Community Checkup demonstrates, that’s simply not the case. Even when there are clear evidence-based guidelines for providers to follow, the quality of care that Washington citizens receive varies tremendously.

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2016

HPV in Washington State

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According to the Washington State Department of Health, human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection. Some types produce warts in the skin and others lead to several types of cancer, especially cervical, anal and throat cancers. The good news is that most HPV-caused cancers can be prevented with a vaccine. However, vaccination rates in Washington state are still very low.

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2016

Measuring Health Plans

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Health insurance plans help people pay for essential medical services. But they also help control overall health care costs and play an important role in improving the quality of health care for their members. That’s why we publish health plan performance results on the Community Checkup.

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2016

Vaccinations in Washington State

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Since their introduction in the 19th century, vaccines have saved countless lives. With a long record of safety and cost-effectiveness, vaccines have been an important weapon in the fight against disease. However, despite the proof that vaccines can prevent potentially deadly diseases, the rate of vaccinations in Washington state still varies significantly.

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