Perspective: Introducing the Low Value Care Visualizer—A Tool to Help States Simplify Analytics for Action

January 30, 2020

Beth Beaudin-Seiler

Woman looks at three screens displaying an overview of findings from the Low Value Care Visualizer

Waste accounts for approximately one-quarter of total US health care spending. How do we shift our focus from how much we spend to how well it is spent? Reducing low-value care—or services proven to provide limited benefit, no benefit, or even the potential for harm to a patient—is a good start, but often the resulting findings are dense and hard to manage. We’ve created a tool to help visualize and help make sense of these findings.

States have the potential to decrease low-value care through coordinated actions, but few have taken the critical first step of measuring low-value services in claims or EHR data. The Healthcare Affordability State Policy Scorecard, released last week by Altarum’s Health Care Value Hub, found that only a handful of states have attempted to systematically assess the provision of low-value care.

Why do so many states remain in the dark when it comes to measuring how often health care services provided render little to no value? Claims data is dense, and many organizations that need to understand this information lack a deep-dive analytics team to tease out meaningful insights. The Research Consortium for Health Care Value Assessment, a collaboration between Altarum and VBID Health, developed the Low Value Care Visualizer to help you better understand your findings through meaningful, usable visualizations.

The Low Value Care Visualizer is an open-source, web-based dashboard that provides you with a template to upload your cleaned claims data, then outputs clear visualizations across 44 potential low-value care services. Developed based on stakeholder interviews, the information displayed is distilled into the elements identified as most needed to guide decision-making and the simple visuals quickly communicate the underlying story of your data, including:

  • the percentage of individuals that received low-value care;
  • the percentage of total budget attributed to low-value care;
  • trends in provision and cost of low-value services over multiple years; and
  • the top five costliest low-value care services.

Reducing the prevalence of low-value care is one step in curbing waste in your health care system. Understanding the prevalence of low-value care isn’t always easy, but the Low Value Care Visualizer can help. Try the visualizer and let us know how we can help you better understand your claims data.

Altarum is a nonprofit organization that works with federal and state agencies and foundations to design and implement solutions to improve the health of individuals with fewer financial resources and populations disenfranchised by the health care system. We achieve measurable results by combining our expertise in public health and health care delivery with technology, workforce training and continuing education, applied research, and technical assistance. Our innovative solutions lead to better health for beneficiaries and better value for payers.
Introducing the Low Value Care Visualizer—A Tool to Help States Simplify Analytics for Action


Beth Beaudin-Seiler

Beth Beaudin-Seiler  - PhD

Beth is a senior research analyst focused on health economics and policy in Altarum’s Applied Research and Analytics division. She has worked on multiple projects concerning the definition and measurement of low-value care. Beth holds a doctor of philosophy in public affairs and administration from Western Michigan University.