Transforming Health Care in Whatcom County is an ongoing collaborative effort that includes area providers, insurance plans, business owners, elected officials and community members who are committed to the “triple aim”: improve population health outcomes; enhance the patient experience of care; and reduce the per capita cost. Facilitated by the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA), participants are focused on meaningful system changes that require cooperation and result in greater accountability to each other and the community.
In the future system, care will be organized around person-centered health homes. Communication technology between providers will greatly improve. Physicians, specialists, the hospital, and others will receive incentives for improved health outcomes and cost reductions.
A two-level health system is proposed: (a) Level 1 will plan and organize the entire community’s health system and establish community values and performance targets, and (b) Level 2 will accept accountability, as a provider group, for achieving those targets and deliver the care.
why Whatcom County?
Health care is local. The majority of efforts to improve the health system in the United States are health plan- or hospital- based and funded. In Whatcom County, we aim to work with the community to reshape our health system. This local effort requires millions of dollars to support information technology, care management, and payment redesigns. These costs are routinely born by large hospital systems and/or health plans. In Whatcom County, WAHA and its partners will pursue public, private, and community funding.
We can! This community has a long and proud tradition of innovation in health care dating back over thirty years. A timeline of successes are briefly listed here: Pursuing Perfection, HInet, Shared Care Plan, Stepping Stones, Patient Advisory Council, Community Organizing Group for Health, formation of an Accountable Care Organization and many more!
WAHA represents a coalition of diverse interests including nearly all sectors of the Whatcom health care economy: the sole community hospital, all major physician groups operating within the area, two community clinics, the business sector, and community members. WAHA serves as a ‘safe table’ to represent all interests in the local health sector without being dominated by any single interest; therefore WAHA is the ideal convening organization for health care reform in this community.
what is the plan?
Phase 1. WAHA convenes members of the Whatcom County medical community to develop a blueprint of the future local health care delivery system. Read the Phase I Executive Report. [Duration: 6 months, Status: complete]
Phase 2. Participants develop the infrastructure needed for a successful accountable care community, as well as additional detailed start-up planning. Read the Phase II Executive Report. [Duration: 1 year, Status: nearly complete]
Phase 3. Phase III, primed to begin in winter of 2013, will consist of pilot projects of the new health care delivery system. [Duration: 1 year, Status: not yet initiated]
Phase 4. Phase IV is the continual assessment, evaluation and improvement of the new health system. [Duration: ongoing, Status: not yet initiated]
For reports, presentations, and work products from the Transforming Health Care in Whatcom County Project, please go to our library.
watch a town hall event about health care
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