Closing care gaps contributes to high quality rankings

We recently announced that our physician group was recognized by the Washington Health Alliance (WHA) 2016 Community Checkup as the top-performing medical group in Washington state. We’ve received that top ranking 10 years in a row, and Matt Handley, MD, medical director, Quality and Safety, sheds some light on how we’ve achieved consistently high marks.

“Every touch point we have with a patient—whether through primary or specialty care, urgent care, or the Consulting Nurse Service—is an opportunity to identify care gaps and close them,” says Dr. Handley. “We check whether patients are up to date on their immunizations, lab tests, and screenings, and give them the opportunity to get that care on the spot if possible. As a result, we do very well on quality measures related to diabetes, heart disease, asthma, depression, immunizations, and cancer screening.”

Involving patients in treatment decisions helps, too

High quality patient careEducating patients about their treatment options and involving them in treatment choices is another way that we help patients get the highest quality and most appropriate care, while boosting patient satisfaction.

“Shared decision making is most effective when there is more than one reasonable treatment option, with different risks and benefits,” says Dr. Handley. “Research shows that when patients are better informed about their options and know what to expect, results are better for many conditions.”

Our shared decision-making aids cover topics ranging from hip osteoarthritis to breast cancer surgery and from back care to prostate problems. They’re available as DVDs or videos streamed online at our member site, with a companion booklet.

We’ve also teamed up with Consumer Reports and the ABIM Foundation on the Choosing Wisely campaign, which provides consumer-friendly fact sheets on tests, procedures, and medicines used for treating some of the most common health conditions.

“The fact sheets include evidence-based information about the pros and cons of various tests and treatment options,” says Dr. Handley. “They can help patients have informed discussions with their providers about what tests and treatments are smart choices, and when less might actually be more when it comes to certain health issues.”

The result is consistently improved care—and lower costs.

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©2018 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington

All plans offered and underwritten by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington or Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc.