Washington’s health system performance among best nation but still needs improvement

The Commonwealth Fund recently released the 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, which analyzed more than 40 measures of health care access, quality, efficiency, health outcomes and disparities.

Overall, Washington was ranked seventh out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, an improvement from its baseline score of 13.

Baseline scores are based off data from 2012 and 2013, with a few outliers. The 2018 scores are based off data from 2015 and 2016, with a few outliers.

Washington saw improvements from the baseline score in all five major categories. All categories except for Prevention and Treatment are above the U.S. average.

Washington saw the most improvements in decreasing the number home health patients without improved mobility and decreasing the uninsured population.

Washington also has low rates of preventable hospitalizations for adults ages 18-64 and of hospital admissions for pediatric asthma. Washington is ranked second lowest for diabetic adults without a hemoglobin A1c test.

Despite its high rankings, Washington does have areas of improvement.

The state is ranked 43rd for adults with any mental illness reporting an unmet need and 44th for hospital 30-day mortality. Both of these areas worsened from the baseline data. Washington is ranked 42nd for children without a medical home.

Washington also saw avoidable emergency department visits for Medicare patients age 65+ worsen but is still ranked 9th best in the nation. Washington also saw employee health insurance contributions as a share of median income worsen but is still equal to the U.S. average.

Areas where Washington can improve include

  • Fewer adults skipping needed care because of cost
  • More adults receiving age and gender appropriate cancer screenings
  • More children ages 19-35 months receiving all recommended vaccines
  • Fewer Medicare beneficiaries receiving an unsafe medication
  • Fewer premature deaths before age 75 from causes that are potentially treatable or preventable with timely and appropriate care
  • Fewer employer-insured adults and elderly Medicare beneficiaries seeking care in emergency departments for nonemergent or primary care treatable conditions.

The complete data set for Washington can be viewed here and the entire report can be viewed here.