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Proposed Database Could Lower Virginia Healthcare Costs

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A legislative subcommittee in Virginia is looking into whether a database could help standardize the cost of medical care within the state.
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A legislative subcommittee in Virginia is looking into whether a database could help standardize the cost of medical care within the state.

The availability, costs, and practices of medical care vary significantly across Virginia, so a legislative subcommittee is examining whether a database that aggregates statewide information could help improve the state’s health care delivery system. The initiative would collect health-related data for both the government and private sectors to use.

Twelve states already have all-payer claims databases, which gather medical, pharmacy, and dental claims from private and public payers, including insurers and Medicaid.

"The whole goal of this is to begin to measure things across various systems, tests, or procedures across providers to see if we can get begin to get a handle on some of the things that are driving up the costs of care-but more importantly, to focus on the quality side to make care better," says Dr. John O'Bannon, who charis the health care panel exploring the idea.

O’Bannon said the data could answer many questions, such as which diagnostic tests are used, outcomes of different treatments, which providers cost more, who uses emergency rooms, or how clinical guidelines are met. He envisions that everyone, including communities and businesses, could use the data.

"You could go on your computer, or go to a website maybe, and get an idea about what things cost, and where’s the most reasonable place to get something done, and who does the better quality work," he says.

He said to protect privacy, names would not be collected.

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