Good data, good decisions

December 17, 2015

The New York Times has created a deeply fascinating way to explore cost variation across the country, and it bears thought.

On Tuesday, they published “The Experts Were Wrong About the Best Places for Better and Cheaper Health Care.” Medicare spending on procedures is a rich dataset of cost variation and has been used as a lens on the issue of cost variation. New research brings a new dimension to that work: data from several private insurers. This data is important because it brings transparency to cost variation so we can begin to explore its causes.

That’s why WSHA has long-supported the state’s creation of an all-payer claims database (APCD). By combining cost and quality data with patient demographic data, and using information from both public and private insurers, we can get a much clearer picture of what’s working—and what’s not—in health care.

Established by the legislature a few years ago, the state is now looking for the right vendor to build and maintain the database. It’s critical that our state secure a top-notch keeper for this data. It’s a big challenge because the data will need to fuel a broad variety of research and work. In addition to needing extraordinary utility and accuracy, it also needs a high degree of security.

If we are going to make the improvements our health care system needs, we need the APCD to work. We — consumers, providers, insurers, lawmakers, the public — need to understand the cost and utilization of our health care system if we are to substantially improve it. The Times’ interactive data is just a taste of the variation that needs to be explored.

This year, we at WSHA aligned our strategic goals with the “Triple Aim” of improving quality care, population health and per capita cost. You can see our strategic plan here and read more about the Triple Aim here.

Our residents and our businesses deserve a high-value health care system. 2016 offers much promise, but it will take our continued cooperation and commitment to ensure Washington gets the health care system we deserve.


Scott Bond
President and CEO


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