SEATTLE, Aug. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On average, more than one in 12 commercially insured adults in Washington received at least one prescription for an opioid in a one-year period covered by a report issued today by the Washington Health Alliance (Alliance). The report, Different Regions, Different Care: A Report on Procedure Rate Variation in Washington State, found that variation among different parts of the state is pronounced, with prescription rates varying by as much as threefold or more, depending on the age and gender of the patient.
"With this analysis, the Alliance offers a unique perspective on opioid use in our state," said Nancy A. Giunto, executive director of the Alliance. "We believe that this information will help inform the ongoing conversation about opioid prescribing in Washington. More importantly, we hope that the data will lead to further action to address this tragic problem."
"Opioid addiction is taking a terrible toll on communities, people and families across our state," said Gov. Jay Inslee. "While the state has been a leader in tackling this epidemic, 600 people still die every year in Washington state from opioid overdoses. The Washington Health Alliance's report highlights the need for us to do even more to reach out to and educate doctors and to provide treatment services to patients in pain or who may be addicted to painkillers. My administration will use this data to inform action steps that I intend to announce soon to make improvements to reduce opioid use in our state."
While opioid use is a problem across the state, the Alliance's report reveals that prescribing patterns can vary widely, depending on where someone lives. Among the key findings:
Especially eye-opening are prescription rates for young children. For example, in the region with the highest rate, four percent of boys ages two to six received at least one opioid prescription during the year, almost six times the rate as boys in the region with the lowest rate. At the highest rate, one in 25 young boys received a prescription for these powerful painkillers during the year.
Opioid prescribing is just one of 22 treatments and procedures covered in the Alliance's report. In practical terms for patients, the findings show that you may be more likely to have a specific medical test or procedure depending on where you live. Additional examples in the report include:
The Alliance issued another report on variation in health care this week. The report, Less Harm, Less Waste: Choosing Wisely in Washington State, offers county-by-county results for 10 different Choosing Wisely® recommendations. The report was released in conjunction with the Washington State Choosing Wisely Task Force, a group of more than 20 medical leaders from the largest health care organizations in the state. The Task Force is co-sponsored by the Alliance, the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) and the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA). The Alliance has partnered with Qualis Health to supplement the available data with Medicare results for three measures in the report.
Choosing Wisely® is an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation. The goal of Choosing Wisely is to help providers and patients have conversations about the necessity of tests and procedures and support efforts to help patients make smart and effective care choices. The report was made possible thanks to support from the ABIM Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Among the report's key findings:
While neither report can answer why such variation is common across our state, they do highlight the importance of patients—and their caregivers—being engaged in their treatment. Patients should understand all of their options and work with their provider and health care team to make the decision that is best for them. Each treatment option carries its own benefits and risks, many of them significant. Since they are the one who will bear them, patients need to take an active role to ensure that they make the decision that is best for them.
Both reports are available at http://wahealthalliance.org/alliance-reports-websites/alliance-reports/.
About the Washington Health Alliance
The Washington Health Alliance is a place where stakeholders work collaboratively to transform Washington state's health care system for the better. The Alliance brings together organizations that share a commitment to drive change in our health care system by offering a forum for critical conversation and aligned efforts by stakeholders: purchasers, providers, health plans, consumers and other health care partners. The Alliance believes strongly in transparency and offers trusted and credible reporting of progress on measures of health care quality and value. The Alliance is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 185 member organizations. A cornerstone of the Alliance's work is the Community Checkup, a report to the public comparing the performance of medical groups, hospitals and health plans and offering a community-level view on important measures of health care quality (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).
Washington Health Alliance
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SOURCE Washington Health Alliance