Tag Archives: data pooling

Seattle-area project looks at disparities in care

We have talked before about the newfound ability to gather community health data and mine if for new insight. A recent project for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and King County in Washington state looked to do just that by seeking information on health disparities in different ethnic groups. Here is a summary of their findings:

The pilot project revealed that King County employees generally experienced high quality of care on most  performance measures.  This made it difficult to observe relationships between quality of care and absenteeism and productivity.  The analysis did, however, reveal significant disparities in asthma medication use, with African-American patients less likely than other groups to receive adequate medication.

Indeed only 70.4% of African-American patients received appropriate medications for asthma, compared to 87% of Asians, 89.8% of whites, and 100% of Hispanics. See the full results here and in particular note Table 2 in the appendix.

Wisconsin health information exchange launches new database

Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the community data pooling organization, Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO), has launched a database that will now be available to large healthcare systems and, eventually, to consumers. The database will improve transparency and allow better understanding of healthcare quality and cost dynamics:

The database is drawn from the experiences of more than 1.6 million people and 72 million treatment services. In April, WHIO will add data from Dean HMO and Medicaid, which includes BadgerCare, the state health program for the working poor, adding the experiences of 1 million more insured people to the database.

“To us, the real opportunity is to look across all the claims aggregated here and get a picture of where we have cost-effective health care being delivered in Wisconsin, and where we have an opportunity to improve the cost-effectiveness of health care,” said Karen Timberlake, secretary of the state Department of Health Services and a WHIO board member.

“There isn’t a database like this that’s been available to providers to measure these sorts of things. And if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” said Larry Rambo, chief executive of Humana’s Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois markets.

Wisconsin is among a handful of states – including Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington – that have put infrastructures in place for pooling health data to improve quality and transparency, according to a briefing paper written this year by the consulting and actuarial company Milliman.

Click here for more information on these information exchanges.

Are we building the foundation for a Health IT Tower of Babel?

We have seen much attention paid to the adoption of electronic health records (EHR). Paying for EHR is notable as one aspect of healthcare reform that already has won funding thanks to billions set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some stimulus makes sense given the low adoption of EHRs by providers nationwide and the inefficiencies of a paper-based system.

But one aspect of EHR adoption has been largely overlooked. A new healthcare reform briefing paper by Rich Moyer and Paul Leonardo examines how population-level analysis is key to unlocking the potential of electronic health records. Community data pooling allows analysis that makes healthcare quality more apparent and can help measure and improve the system on a regional basis. These information exchanges are currently operational in at least five states and are already yielding results (while hopefully preventing the formation of new information silos in the move toward EHR).

More from Mass.

Massachusetts is in the news a lot these days when it comes to healthcare. One effort that is flying under the radar for now but may yield some interesting results has to do with the effort to analyze and publish reliable, state-wide data on cost and quality. Milliman is working with Massachusetts Health Quality Partners on this effort.

Community data-pooling initiatives like this may plan an increasingly important role in providing useful data that can improve public transparency and provide benchmarking for various healthcare improvements.