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ICHS ranked Washington State’s No. 1 community health center

ICHS ranked Washington State’s No. 1 community health center

March 14, 2024
ICHS WA Health Alliance Community Checkup Header image (web)

International Community Health Services (ICHS) was ranked the top performing federally-qualified community health center in all of Washington state in Medicaid Cost and Quality by the Washington Health Alliance. The ranking in the Where You Live Matters: Community Checkup 2024 report is based upon quality and cost measures compared across the state’s best performing health care providers.

“Earning recognition in the Washington Health Alliance report isn't just an honor,” said Dr. Deepa Lakshimi Yerram, ICHS Chief Medical Officer. “It's a validation of our dedication to serving our community with the highest standards of care. Think of the Washington Health Alliance as a scorecard for healthcare in Washington. Their Common Measure Set, based on real data, identifies providers who excel in delivering quality care at a responsible cost. We're proud to be recognized among the top performers, demonstrating our commitment to providing accessible, efficient healthcare for everyone.”

The Community Checkup is an annual report highlighting health care quality and value at medical groups and hospitals in Washington state. The data gives providers and patients a big picture look at healthcare throughout the state in an overall effort to transform the health care system for the better. Data points were charted from 36 data sources that illustrate the lived experiences of more than 4 million people across Washington state receiving care at 1,875 clinics, 325 medical groups, 100 hospitals and 16 health plans. Washingtonians with Medicaid and private insurance, living in both urban and rural areas were all included.

Washington state is home to 27 federally qualified community health centers (FQHC) that deliver health care to more than 1.1 million Washingtonians each year at more than 350 clinic sites. These non-profit health care providers provide high-quality, cost-effective health services to everyone who walks through their doors.

In 2022, ICHS provided health services to 30,612 patients who spoke more than 70 languages. 47% of ICHS patients were on Medicaid insurance plans — almost double the rate Washington state share of population covered by Medicaid according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“ICHS received the lowest in our Medicaid cost utilization,” said Wendy Kim, ICHS Quality and Accreditation Manager. “That meant that we really took care of our patients. They weren't going to hospitals for their care. They weren't overspending on costly, unnecessary medical treatments. [Their health needs] were all taken care of here at ICHS.”

“Addressing Care Gaps”

ICHS was compared to other Washington health care organizations in the Where You Live Matters: Community Checkup 2024 report based upon patient care measures. These include rates of well child checkups, the number of patients who take their required medications, and the screenings for health conditions such as breast cancer and diabetes.

ICHS as a primary care community health center has long prioritized preventive screenings as part of ICHS’ health and wellness services, said Jin Yi Zhou, ICHS Quality Improvement Administrator. Not getting screenings could result in more severe disease that require costlier treatments, visits to emergency rooms or hospitals.

One major achievement that stood out in the report is ICHS surpassing the 90th Percentile National benchmark for care providers for patients completing on-time colon cancer screening.

Screenshot (1)

Screenshot from the Community Checkup 2024 report of International Community Health Services’ scores. Note that ICHS’ scores (the blue bar) surpassed nearly all the state average scores (dark blue bar), and even surpassed the National 90th percentile score for Breast Cancer screening and Cervical Cancer screening (gold bar). Photo courtesy of WA Health Alliance.

According to health researchers, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the world, and yet screenings remain “underused,” These scores, Zhou said, set “the bar” for excellence in performance nationwide.

ICHS’ quality improvement team actively evaluates the quality of preventive care provided within each of the medical clinics at ICHS. The top ranking is largely because of the patient-provider trust that ICHS has built over the last 50 years serving diverse communities. From providers in the clinic, to teams of population health staff that call and speak with patients to walk them through preventative care and screenings.

Zhou knows this directly — he and his family were patients at ICHS before he joined as an employee.

“Speaking from my own family’s experience, they would receive calls from someone speaking their language telling them about medical screenings and appointments,” said Zhou. “That is already a huge plus. Someone would [explain] their care to them. Communication is very, very efficient at ICHS and patients, they enjoy the experience.”

Health research has found that U.S. immigrants have lower health screening rates than native-born Americans. Having regular screening tests — medical tests to check for diseases early and when they may be easier to treat — are essential to living a longer healthier life, according to the CDC. However, immigrants face cultural, language, and financial barriers to receive life-saving screenings.

That’s why ICHS’ Quality Improvement and Population Health teams are so important, said Kim.

Team Photo (1)

ICHS’ Quality Improvement and Population Health teams. Back Row L-R: Siyan Xu, Population Health Coordinator, Wendy Kim, Quality and Accreditation Manager, Jin Zhou, Quality Improvement Administrator, Kaila Fung, Quality Improvement Administrator, Crisa Lee, Population Health Coordinator, Jessica Garcila, Quality Improvement Coordinator, David Sagiyan, Quality Improvement Coordinator. Front Row L-R: Cabrera Sanchez, Population Health Coordinator, Brendan Lo, Population Health Manager, Xin Yu Cai, Population Health Coordinator, and Nina Ngoc Le, Population Health Coordinator.

When asked how ICHS achieved such high screening numbers, Kim shared that it’s largely due to the efforts of ICHS’ population health team who launch robust health education campaigns that are linguistically and culturally competent for ICHS’ patients.

From in-language postcards, text and phone outreach to patients in the languages they speak, and comprehensive data tracking to follow-up on ICHS patients most at risk, said Kim.

At the end of the day, it’s really a team effort from across the non-profit organization that makes ICHS an integrated care home for patients.

“Congratulations to the QI, Population Health, Clinical, Providers, RNs, MAs, PSRs, Data Team, Eligibility, Care Managers, and Care Coordinators, for their collective efforts in making ICHS the lowest Medicaid cost center in the state of Washington for healthcare,” said Kim. “Together we are improving healthcare accessibility and affordability for all of our patients.”


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