MINNESOTA BRIDGES TO EXCELLENCE EXTENDS REACH; DRIVES MORE CLINICS ACROSS THE STATE TO MEET OPTIMAL CARE DELIVERY GUIDELINES
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (June 24, 2010) – There’s good news for patients in Minnesota today. According to the Buyers Health Care Action Group (BHCAG), more Minnesota clinics are delivering optimal care to patients with diabetes, vascular disease and depression, while a large number of clinics have made significant improvements in these areas. These clinics will be recognized on June 30 when BHCAG hosts the Minnesota Bridges to Excellence event, where it will recognize qualifying clinics for their efforts and outcomes in the last year.
The Minnesota Bridges to Excellence program, which was established by BHCAG in 2005, relies on clinical data that is publicly reported to identify clinics that qualify for an “achievement” reward for meeting or exceeding optimal care standards for a specified percentage of patients. Currently in its fifth year, Minnesota Bridges to Excellence added depression care as a category in 2009. In 2010, the program continued to evolve by adding an “improvement” category for clinics that did not meet the standards, but that increased their performance rates by 10 percentage points or more over the previous year.
“BHCAG has seen a consistent increase in clinic participation in its Minnesota Bridges to Excellence program over the last five years, which is very exciting because it means the quality of care is also improving for more Minnesotans with these serious and costly conditions,” said Carolyn Pare, president and CEO of BHCAG. “By publicly reporting their data, the medical groups and clinics that are receiving rewards have shown their commitment to transparency and quality in health care and they should be applauded for their efforts.”
In 2010, BHCAG’s Minnesota Bridges to Excellence program will distribute rewards to 39 medical groups (17 medical groups qualified for rewards in 2009) and 124 clinics (60 clinics qualified for rewards in 2009). A complete list of reward recipients can be found at www.bhcag.com.
Medical groups and clinics that have received a Minnesota Bridges to Excellence reward find the experience to be both validating and inspiring for their staff. Integrity Health Network, which operates clinics in 20 communities throughout northern Minnesota, had two clinics that qualified for improvement rewards; Northland Family Physicians, Duluth, and Raiter Clinic, Cloquet.
“Quality improvement has been a cornerstone of our organization since our inception, and we continue to work to reinvest in the future of health care by improving our internal processes and validating these efforts through participation in programs like Minnesota Bridges to Excellence,” said Bruce Penner, director of quality, Integrity Health Network. “The financial incentive is a plus, but these programs really help us overcome the challenge of being geographically spread out by focusing our efforts.”
According to Penner, some of the changes that clinics within the Integrity Health Network have implemented included:
- Quarterly quality improvement meetings and onsite training with physicians at each location
- Using electronic health records to track patients and identify patients who may not be compliant with their treatment plans, and to reinforce consistent measurement
- Development of clinical prompts for physicians and nursing staff
- Communication at all levels of clinic staff to foster understanding of what’s being measured
“Evidence-based, pay-for-performance programs are a primary element of our quality improvement efforts because they help drive physicians forward, they unite physicians around specific projects, they provide an incentive¾all while allowing the physicians to make the ultimate decisions on how they will bring about change,” said Penner. “This collaborative approach is what makes BHCAG so effective in bringing change to the marketplace.”
To be eligible for a reward, clinics had to have a certain percentage of patients at optimal levels of care. For diabetes, measurement components included levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, along with non-smoking status and daily aspirin use for patients over 40. Vascular disease measurements included cholesterol, and blood pressure, along with non-smoking status, and daily aspirin for all patients. And depression measurements included the improvement in scores obtained from a depression assessment questionnaire referred to as the PHQ-9 over a six-month period of time. Pare noted that while the “improvement” category was not available for depression care this year, it will likely be added in the near future, as more clinics begin reporting outcomes for depression care.
Clinical criteria for the Minnesota Bridges to Excellence program are developed by the Minnesota-based Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI). Data is self-reported by medical groups on behalf of their clinics and verified and audited by Minnesota Community Measurement. BHCAG was instrumental in establishing ICSI and plays an essential role in both ICSI and Minnesota Community Measurement.
“When health care providers share their performance outcomes with the public and everyone is working from a common set of standards and measures, we can create positive change in the marketplace,” said Pare. “As health reform marches on and implementation of this legislation becomes a reality for providers, patients and employers, improving quality and outcomes will become even more important and participation in programs like Minnesota Bridges to Excellence will be a game changer.”
Advised by a guiding coalition of employers, providers, health plans and organizations involved with quality reporting and improvement, BHCAG sets the performance goals and oversees the provider reward process. Clinics that meet the performance goals receive a financial “reward” based on their achievement against these goals. This year, 124 clinics qualified for rewards totaling over $310,000. Three clinics, including Allina Medical Clinic-Buffalo; Allina Medical Clinic-Farmington; and Family HealthServices of Minnesota in White Bear Lake qualified for “achievement” rewards in all three categories.
“We are proud to receive recognition from BHCAG for the Minnesota Bridges to Excellence program,” said Dr. Penny Wheeler, chief clinical officer, Allina Hospitals & Clinics. “BHCAG’s goal of meeting or exceeding optimal care standards fits exactly with our mission, which is to provide exceptional care as we prevent illness. All of our providers understand that we fulfill our mission best when we, first, keep our patients healthy by helping prevent serious illness. BHCAG’s recognition of 28 Allina clinics, including Allina Medical Clinic, Quello Clinic and Aspen Medical Group is confirmation we are delivering on our mission. That means we are making a positive difference in the quality of life for more and more of our patients.”
Financial rewards are made possible by the Minnesota Bridges to Excellence Champions of Change, a group of organizations that sponsor the pay-for-performance program. Champions include 3M, Best Buy, Carlson Companies, General Electric, Honeywell, Medtronic, Resource Training & Solutions, Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative, State of Minnesota-State Employee Group Insurance Plan, State of Minnesota-Department of Human Services Health Care Purchasing, Target, University of Minnesota, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. These organizations provide health care coverage to 830,000 people.
“We’re proud to be among the Minnesota Bridges to Excellence Champions of Change because we believe that everyone deserves top-quality care and the chance to achieve better outcomes for chronic conditions,” said Charles Montreuil, vice president, enterprise rewards and corporate human resources, Best Buy. “At its heart, this program is about the individual health care consumer, and that’s where the focus in health care should always be.”