Puget Sound Health Alliance became the first organization to win an HHS designation that eventually could give the Seattle organization access to Medicare data on hospital and physician performance.
HHS designated the alliance a Community Leader for Value-Driven Health Care, a prerequisite for gaining access to the data. As a Community Leader organization, it will support four key national healthcare goals and work to achieve the four goals at the local and regional level, according to HHS.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt also announced that several Washington state employers committed to the goals, including Aetna, Alaska Airlines, Group Health Cooperative, Horizon Airlines, Microsoft Corp., Premera Blue Cross, Starbucks Corp. and the state government. Also making commitments to the goals were the Association of Washington Business and the Washington Roundtable. King County became the first county in the nation to sign an executive order agreeing to the principles.
The Puget Sound alliance, a regional partnership of employers, physicians, hospitals and others, was able to prove that it had the financial means and the broad support necessary to move forward with a public reporting initiative, said Diane Giese, the alliances communications director. It also must establish that it can comply with privacy laws and can handle the massive volume of data.