Measuring Health in Washington State


When we think about health improvement and transformation across Washington State we know that it’s going to take all of us working together in new and different ways. We liken the state’s push to create the Accountable Communities of Health (ACHs) to the first step. In our region, we are already seeing the benefits of what happens when locally diverse, multi-sector organizations get together to make big things happen.

But just agreeing to work together isn’t enough. We need to also foster collaborative decision-making and action.  In order to this, we have some common measurements and the tools to evaluate.

This past week, the Washington Health Alliance released Performance Results for ACHs 2015 Report. The measures included in this report are a “starter set” of 52 measures (remember the Blue Ribbon Committee that established these in 2013—it included our friends Torney Smith, SRHD, and Sue Dietz, Critical Access Hospital Network) to track important elements of health and health care.

This is a great starting point of having ACH region level measurements. We know this will need to evolve over time to also include our priority areas, but this is an amazing first step to standardize the way we measure performance as a state. Pretty cool, eh?

 Of course, you will want to pour over the data, but here are a few results specific to Spokane and Better Health Together:

  • In most categories, the BHT ACH region was marked average.
  • We performed better in a number of areas: cholesterol lowering drugs, adolescent well-care visits, screening for breast cancer, well-child visits (ages 3-6 years), child and adolescent access to primary care (ages 12-19 years), screenings for cervical cancer, among others.
  • An area in which we need to improve is immunizations, across all categories. (Thank goodness our friends in Northeast Tri County are on this!) We also have room for improvement in testing for children with pharyngitis, as well as adult access to preventive/ambulatory care.

This measure set means it will become possible not just to make comparisons among counties but with national benchmarks as well. These measures will also be helpful as we raise awareness among the community about what and where we need improvement. It’s all about improving health!