Seattle-area healthcare "checkup" finds deficiencies

A Seattle-area health alliance has conducted what it calls a "community checkup," examining care for more than 1.6 million patients--and concluded that performance was below current standards on many measures. The research, which cost the Puget South Health Alliance a cool $1.1 million, looked at 21 types of care provided to patients in Seattle and surrounding counties, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, low back pain and preventive care. Information was drawn from 81 volunteer clinics, including about 70 percent of the insured, non-Medicare population in the region, using data drawn between January 2004 and December 2006.

The Alliance found that fewer than half of residents over 50 had gotten recommended preventive care such as colorectal cancer screenings, mammograms and pap smears. Meanwhile, about 20 percent of patients with heart disease or diabetes did not have their cholesterol checked at least once during the year assessed, the report concludes. However, Alliance leaders said that they don't intend to punish providers for deficiencies. They see the data as a "starting place from which to improve," according to executive director Margaret Stanley.

To learn more about the report:
- read this Seattle Post-Intelligencer piece

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