Blog

Conference preview: The “overuse watchdogs”

As we prepare for the 2018 Lown Conference (coming up in less than two weeks), we want to help you get ready as well. So we’re putting out previews of some of our keynote speakers and panelists so you learn more about what to expect at the conference, and start getting excited!
 
We know low-value care matters, but what is the best way to measure it? How are overuse measurement tools being used in the field right now and what are the results? At the 2018 Lown Conference, we have a breakout panel of experts to discuss these questions and more. 
 
In our featured Measuring Overuse Panel, hear about how Massachusetts, Washington, and Virginia are using innovative measurement tools to assess overuse in provider networks, the real world challenges of implementation, and the impact on clinical practice in these states.
 
Panelists include Beth Bortz, President & CEO of the Virginia Center for Health Innovation; Jodi Segal, Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; David Seltz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission; and Susanne Dade, Deputy Director at the Washington Health Alliance.
 
One of the most exciting developments in overuse research this year has been the First, Do No Harm report from the Washington Health Alliance. Out of 47 commonly overused treatments, WHA found that in 2015-2016 nearly half of these services provided were low-value, wasting $282 million. Their health waste calculator is an innovative measure of overuse, identifying not only potentially wasteful services but also identifying the degree of appropriateness for care. 
 
Although the report includes an estimate of the financial cost of low-value care, WHA frames low-value care not simply as a waste issue, but an issue of patient safety and well-being. “We called the report ‘Do No Harm’ to tie the issue of low-value care to the potential harm to peoples’ health,” said Susanne Dade.
 
For David Seltz at the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, the most useful measure of overuse is not necessarily volume but variation. They give health care providers reports showing their rates of overuse using measures from Choosing Wisely, including how they match up against other organizations.

“We use data as a launching point to discuss varying rates, to drive conversations among providers organizations,” said Seltz. In response to these reports, low-performing organizations have created internal working groups to figure out how best to reduce low-value care.

How important is the issue of wasted costs? Seltz said the opportunity to save money can be a way to engage provider organizations. But they aren’t always going to be giving providers the carrot. “Part of the mandate is being a ‘watchdog’ and calling out inappropriate market behavior,” said Seltz.