Washington launches online tool that lets patients compare prices for medical procedures

This is a very interesting web site. Check out the emergency room prices both from Jefferson Healthcare and surrounding areas. Finally we are seeing the curtain being pulled back on our hospital pricing, which many of us have known is overpriced for many standard procedures.  Our elected hospital commissioners,  who have claimed to me and others that this was not possible to do, should have some explaining to do.

https://www.wahealthcarecompare.com/procedure/emergency-room-visit?zipcode=98368

If you or a loved one needed knee replacement surgery, would you want to know which surgeon in your community has the highest rating for quality of care? Would you like to know how much a knee replacement costs, on average, at all of the medical offices close to your home?

Those are the types of information easily accessed through Washington state’s new HealthCareCompare website, an online tool that launched today. The user-friendly website is part of the state’s larger effort to make health care costs more transparent, and gives the public access to health care price and quality information from the Washington All-Payer Claims Database. The database is the result of legislation proposed by the governor.

https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/washington-launches-online-tool-lets-patients-compare-prices-medical-procedures

One-of-a kind collaboration expected to train health care workers on Peninsula – PDN

This is a great idea to try and work to train and bring on qualified local people quickly.  Thanks to the Littlejohns and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe for also helping to fund the initiative. Jefferson Healthcare has tried with little success to find medical professionals willing to relocate here for the long term. I personally have seen them pass over qualified local candidates in favor of people from elsewhere, only to see them leave after a few years of work here. Now this program presents the opportunity to grow candidates on the peninsula, which is far more likely to having them stay for the long haul. A good use of our tax dollars, I’d say.

PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College is teaming up with health care providers from Clallam and Jefferson counties in a wide-ranging $1 million effort funded by state lawmakers, the college foundation, local hospitals and others. The goal: Add registered nurses, medical assistants and certified nursing assistants to a rural medical industry workforce on the North Olympic Peninsula that is typically starving for job applicants.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/one-of-a-kind-collaboration-expected-to-train-health-care-workers-on-peninsula/

Amid Statewide Mental Health Care Crisis, UW Looks to Shutter Psychiatric Unit – The Stranger

A sad state of affairs. The mentally ill are perpetually short changed by our State government. And if you have a mentally ill adult child up until this recent session you had virtually no way to try and get them into a facility against their will no matter how bad they got, other than being sent off to jail for behavioral issues. At least that was made easier this session.

It seems like there never is enough for the military in this country given the last federal budget that both Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of funding yet our mentally ill facilities are struggling. I personally would be glad to have a mechanism on my tax form to at least state what % of my taxes should go to the military vs. healthcare and other social and infrastructure needs. It could at least act as a guide for grading how our legislators work.

When the American College of Emergency Physicians graded every state back in 2014, it gave Washington a D+. Among our state’s worst marks: psychiatric beds. Washington has just 8.3 beds for every 100,000 people, worse than all but two other states.

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/04/03/25990360/amid-statewide-mental-health-care-crisis-uw-looks-to-shutter-psychiatric-unit

Governor Signs Bills Related to Healthcare

Here’s the current list of some of the healthcare related bills signed into law recently by Governor Inslee. Use the Bill Tracker web page at the state to see the details on any of them.  My take is that it was a very successful session for healthcare related needs.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/

  • Relating to priority processing for adult family home license applications. (6113)
  • Relating to requiring coverage for hearing instruments under public employee and medicaid programs.(5179)
  •  Relating to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing.(6580)
  • Relating to ensuring that no youth is discharged from a public system of care into homelessness.(6560)
  • Relating to expanding the access to baby and child dentistry program to serve children with disabilities. (6549)
  • Relating to promoting access to the Washington early childhood education and assistance program.(6419)
  • Relating to child support, but only including a parent’s obligation to provide medical support, use of electronic funds transfers, notice of noncompliance, adoption of the economic table recommended by the child support work group, and references to the federal poverty level in self-support reserve limitations.(6334)
  • Relating to preventing suicide by permitting the voluntary waiver of firearm rights.(5553)
  • Relating to the mental health field response teams program. (2892)
  • Relating to making technical corrections to the family and medical leave program and making no substantive changes.(2702)
  • Relating to defining best practices for the process and people involved in best interest determination of students in out-of-home care.(2684)
  • Relating to the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging.(2658)
  • Relating to increasing the personal needs allowance for people in residential and institutional care settings. (2651)
  • Relating to authorizations of proposals for emergency medical care and service levies. (2627)
  • Relating to public hospital district health and wellness promotion activities and superintendent appointment and removal.
  • Relating to maximum penalties under the Washington industrial safety and health act.
  • Relating to providing women with timely information regarding their breast health.
  • Relating to improving access to reproductive health.
  • Relating to insurance coverage of tomosynthesis or three-dimensional
  • Relating to providing a business and occupation tax exemption for accountable communities of health. mammography.
  • and many more…

A new kind of doctor’s office that doesn’t take insurance and charges a monthly fee is ‘popping up everywhere’ — and that could change how we think about healthcare – Business Insider

Interesting article after the previous post.

Direct primary care is a small but fast-growing movement of doctors who don’t accept insurance and instead charges a monthly membership fee.

http://www.businessinsider.com/direct-primary-care-no-insurance-healthcare-2018-3

In Rural Washington, Pediatricians A Scarce Commodity -KUOW

More on the slow motion collapse of our health care system. The problem, across the board is that medical professionals are getting squeezed by both State healthcare systems and large insurance companies. If you aren’t willing to raise your taxes to cover your physicians costs, you won’t have one. Here’s a case study right here in our state.

For the past 16 years, Jill Hutton has been managing a pediatric clinic in Aberdeen that once treated 70 to 100 children a day. But now it’s empty. She’s working on shutting it down

.

http://kuow.org/post/low-medicaid-reimbursement-rates-made-rural-pediatric-clinics-scarce

New Study Finds Hundreds of Thousands of Washington Patients Receive Unnecessary Tests, Procedures, and Treatments – WA Healthcare Alliance

– In one year, an estimated $282 million was spent on “wasteful” health care for 622,000 Washington patients

– Washington becomes just the third state in the nation to use a new tool called the MedInsight Health Waste Calculator to measure health care waste and put a price tag on overuse

To anyone familiar with the healthcare industry, this is no news. Doctors overuse tests and procedures because they are worried about lawsuits, and the insurance industry demands they do them. And just to point out, the use of “Big Data” again shows that we can learn much from studying the vast arrays of data being collected in our new world of electronic records, etc.

SEATTLE, Feb. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — 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.

The report, First, Do No Harm: Calculating Health Care Waste in Washington State utilizes the new MedInsight Health Waste Calculator from the actuarial consulting firm Milliman, to produce an analysis of low-value health care services across the state. The services measured include 47 common tests, procedures, and treatments that clinician-led national initiatives such as Choosing Wisely® and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have determined are overused.

Low-value health care services, also called overuse or waste, refers to medical tests and procedures that have been shown to provide little benefit in particular clinical scenarios and in many cases have the potential to cause physical, emotional, or financial harm to patients. Preventing harm associated with the delivery of health care is essential to improving patient safety. While harm is not intentional, it is particularly troublesome when it results from tests, procedures, and treatments that were unnecessary.

“This is a pioneering report for Washington state’s health care community,” said Nancy A. Giunto, executive director of the Washington Health Alliance. “Being able to measure specific areas of waste in the health care system is an important step forward. The results are stunning and provide a clear opportunity to educate patients and engage health care stakeholders on areas of improvement.”

Highlights from the report:

  • This report examined 47 common treatment approaches known to be overused.
  • More than 45% of the health care services examined were determined to be of low value.
  • Approximately 1.3 million individuals received one of these 47 services; among these individuals, almost one-half (47.9%) received a low-value service.
  • 36% of spending on the health care services examined went to low-value treatments and procedures. This amounts to an estimated $282 million in unnecessary spending.
  • Of the 47 treatments and services analyzed, 93% of overuse was attributed to just 11 common tests, procedures and treatments. These include such things as preoperative tests and lab studies prior to low-risk surgery, too frequent cancer screenings, eye imaging tests for people without significant eye disease, annual EKG tests or cardiac screening for people with low risk of heart disease, and imaging for uncomplicated conditions such as low back pain.

Many areas of overuse are individually low cost, but when they are used in high volumes they add up to tremendous waste. “Overuse in the healthcare system has become so common that we frequently don’t even think to question it,” Giunto said. “However, preventing harm to patients is critical, in addition to the fact that everyone pays the price because overuse contributes to higher insurance premiums across the board.”

The MedInsight Health Waste Calculator is an analytic tool powered by Milliman’s MedInsight software and encapsulates VBID Health’s market knowledge on wasteful healthcare spending. The tool identifies and quantifies the use of unnecessary or potentially harmful clinical services, including those defined by national initiatives such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and Choosing Wisely®.

Only two other states in the country have utilized the MedInsight Health Waste Calculator, and only one of them has released results publicly. The public release of the Alliance’s Washington state findings will enable a much-needed community dialogue among key stakeholders about low-value care.

“The MedInsight Health Waste Calculator is a critical tool in the MedInsight suite of analytic products,” said Marcos Dachary, director of product management at Milliman. “We are proud to have worked with the Alliance to produce this vital report about the overuse of health care services in Washington state.”

To help reduce low-value care, physicians and patients should have conversations about appropriate medical care that is both necessary and evidence-based. The national Choosing Wisely® program, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation, offers the following tips to patients.

What can patients do to avoid overuse? Ask these 5 questions before you have a medical test or procedure:

  1. Do I really need this test or procedure?
  2. What are the risks and side effects?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I don’t do anything?
  5. How much does it cost, and will my insurance pay for it?

NOTES:  

  • The measurement year used for the results in this report include services delivered between July 2015 and June 2016.
  • The results in this report are based on an analysis of 47 specific health care services and approximately 2.4 million commercially insured people, and therefore should be viewed as a strong estimate rather than a comprehensive analysis of all health care received by all Washingtonians during the measurement period. Extrapolation of these results to other populations or types of care is not advised.

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 160 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).

Media Contact:

Casey Calamusa
Washington Health Alliance
206.454.2961
ccalamusa@wahealthalliance.org

SOURCE Washington Health Alliance