Awards normally go to the most or biggest. This award, however, from Seattle Business magazine and the Washington Health Alliance, takes a different approach, recognizing the smallest as the most outstanding performers in the Alliance’s latest edition of “First, Do No Harm,” a report released last October that analyzed low-value health care services across the state. Award recipients provided the least amount of clinically unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures in 47 categories commonly regarded as overused by the national Choosing Wisely Program and the medical community, as measured by the Milliman MedInsight Health Waste Calculator.
The Alliance’s results from 2014 to 2017 show that 51% of all treatments examined were considered wasteful or likely wasteful and were delivered to an average of 846,973 individuals each year. Estimated total cost: $703 million.
Using its voluntary All Payer Claims Database, the Alliance measured the number of low-value services provided per 1, 000 people. For the commercially insured, the average number of low-value services was 468.4, but it was 37% lower for PeaceHealth Medical Group. For the Medicaid-insured, the average number of low-value services provided was 412.2, but Public Health-Seattle King County, provided 46% less.
Reporting on waste by individual medical groups with this edition of “First, Do No Harm” was a first, not only in Washington state, but in the nation. “With waste accounting for an estimated 25% to 30% of our nation’s health care expenditures,” says Alliance Executive Director Nancy Giunto, “we can go a long way toward improving health care quality and affordability by simply eliminating unnecessary, wasteful services that harm patients emotionally, physically and financially. This report gives us a starting place to making that happen.”