health outcomes

Spokane Prescription Drug Assistance helps reduce hospital and ER visits

The Spokane Prescription Drug Assistance Network (SPDA) has been credited in a recent study for contributing to a drop in hospital admissions and emergency room visits. The network, organized in part by founding EHF board member Sam Selinger, helps patients access reduced cost and free medicines by connecting them to prescription assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. SPDA began in 2008 as the pilot program for the statewide Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation, approved by Washington State Legislature in 2005. The Foundation has since expanded to include similar programs in Seattle, Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Shelton, Yakima, Toppenish, Grandview, and Colfax.

The study tracked 310 patients for one year before enrolling in a prescription assistance program, and one year after. Results were published on April 1st in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy. Patients receiving pulmonary and asthma medications showed the greatest drop in use of emergency services. However, the study also noted that young patients between 18-24 years old and patients on medications for mental conditions saw increased emergency room visits. Selinger commented that this finding creates an important space for future study.  

There has been very little research available on the affect of prescription assistance programs because most of the research has been kept proprietary by big pharmaceutical companies. This study was a collaborative effort between SPDA, Washington State University Spokane, and local doctors and hospitals. Selinger commented to the Spokesman-Review that such collaboration is pretty unusual, but we here in the EHF region know that collaboration is exactly what we need to radically transform health, and are happy to see the SPDA is making significant headway towards transforming Eastern Washington into the state’s healthiest region.

Health Affairs on Accountable Communities of Health

The conversation around social determinants of health continues to buzz with a recent article from Health Affairs about what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Accountable Health Communities funding announcement means for our idea of community health.  We at EHF have been talking about social determinants of health - factors like transportation, access to healthy food and adequate housing, and adverse childhood experiences - for some time (see the Health Iceberg illustration below), but the national attention is a new and positive development.  We are especially excited about the  focus on developing a workforce of health and social service navigators, or Community Health Workers, as well as the suggestion of future payment reform.  

Check out the full article on the Health Affairs Blog!

Office of Financial Management Report reveals opportunities for improvement in the health of Eastern Washington

This report released by the Washington State Office of Financial Management's Health Care Research Center shows that there are still opportunities for improvement in making Eastern Washington the state's healthiest region.  Organized by legislative district, it provides life expectancy and mortality data, among other indicators, compared to statewide averages.  For example, the figure below shows districts with a life expectancy shorter than the state average in red.

This visualization of life expectancy in Eastern Washington shows that we have a ways to go toward making our region the healthiest in the state.  Image courtesy of OFM (Campo, Joe. Variations in Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates, 2012-2014).

This visualization of life expectancy in Eastern Washington shows that we have a ways to go toward making our region the healthiest in the state.  Image courtesy of OFM (Campo, Joe. Variations in Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates, 2012-2014).

As the above figure shows, much of our region has a life expectancy shorter than the state average, meaning there are still opportunities for EHF, our partners, and our subsidiaries to address in making Eastern Washington the healthiest region in the state.

Access the full report on the OFM website, or download the PDF below.

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EHF VP Kristen and BHT Executive Director Alison talk housing and health

Source: Urban Institute. Mapping America’s Rental Housing Crisis. http://datatools.urban.org/features/rental-housing-crisis-map/

Source: Urban Institute. Mapping America’s Rental Housing Crisis. http://datatools.urban.org/features/rental-housing-crisis-map/

Curious about how EHF is working with partners to address health and housing?  Check out the latest edition of MyView, a periodic publication put out by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, to learn more about our joint efforts with our subsidiary Better Health Together and our nonprofit partners Catholic Charities and Volunteers of America to improve health and housing outcomes for chronically homeless individuals.

Kristen West Fisher presents at Health Innovation Leadership Network

Our VP of Programs Kristen West Fisher recently presented on Eastern Washington's efforts to improve oral health throughout the region at the Washington Health Care Authority's Health Innovation Leadership Network meeting last month.  She highlighted the great work being done by our subsidiary Better Health Together through their Dental Emergencies Needing Treatment (DENT) program, which aims to reduce dental-related emergency service use for Medicaid patients.  By growing the network of Medicaid dental providers and helping clients access preventive dental care, this program has already saved an estimated $2 million in emergency room funds in the first 18 months.  Check out Kristen's full presentation below.

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