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MNCM, ICSI, and Stratis Health Joint Convening on Health Care Affordability

On November 29, MNCM, the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), and Stratis Health hosted a community event about health care affordability, supported by funding from the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the problem of health care affordability, and how to improve affordability as a community.

The event began with a presentation by MNCM President Julie Sonier on health care affordability drivers and recent cost trends, followed by a panel discussion led by Jennifer Lundblad from Stratis Health that included panelists representing a variety of perspectives: consumer, employer, provider, and health plan. Dr. Charles Fazio from HealthPartners gave a presentation on envisioning a more affordable health care system, and Dr. Claire Neely from ICSI provided context and led a small group exercise and discussion on barriers to a more affordable system. Participants were asked to identify collaborative action steps toward improving health care affordability in their own environments.

The engaging and energetic event was attended by about 75 local health care leaders.

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Clinic and Provider Registration and Direct Data Submission

MNCM’s Data Portal is open for annual clinic and provider registration. All eligible Minnesota clinics and providers are required to register and update their information. Registration instructions and a recorded webinar are available for download from the MNCM Data Portal Resources tab or MNCM.org. Registration is a prerequisite to submitting data for the clinical quality measures in 2019.

Clinical quality measures are submitted during two cycles:

  • Cycle A measures are submitted in Jan/Feb 2019 and include the asthma, colorectal cancer screening, depression, diabetes, and vascular measures.
  • Cycle B measures are submitted in April/May 2019 and include the adolescent mental health and/or depression screening, total knee replacement, spine surgery lumbar discectomy/laminotomy, and spine surgery lumbar fusion measures.
  • A detailed schedule is available for download from the MNCM Data Portal Resources tab for registered users.

Questions? Please check out the MNCM Knowledge Base and Help Desk. You can also contact MNCM at support@mncm.org or 612-746-4522.

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Report on Quality of Care for Chronic Conditions to Be Released Soon

In mid-December, MNCM will publish a report on quality of care for chronic conditions, the second in a new report series organizing quality measures by measurement focus area. These reports bring together performance results on both quality and health equity for measures relevant in each category. The series is intended to provide a more in-depth, user-friendly view of measure results that can more effectively draw attention to the wealth of data that MNCM publishes, engage stakeholder audiences, inform discussions, and catalyze improvement. The new reports present content more concisely using design, context, and streamlined visual displays.

The first report in the series is on depression measures and was released on October 29. The full report can be found here.

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Minnesota Rural Health Cooperative Joins MNCM as Newest Supporting Member

Minnesota Rural Health Cooperative (MRHC) was formed in 1995 to facilitate the goals of containing health care costs, improving the quality of health care, and increasing the access of Minnesota citizens to health care services. MRHC exists to provide (through its resources and services) positioning, integration, and strategy in an ever-changing health care environment.

Services include health plan contracting; delegated credentialing; administrative support regarding health plan contracts; approved CAHPS survey vendor; employee satisfaction survey vendor; technology and computer support; networking, peer support, and education.

For information about becoming a supporting member, please contact Dina Wellbrock at wellbrock@mncm.org or 612-454-4829.

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New MNCM Report Sheds Light on Health Care Cost Trends and Variation in Minnesota

MNCM recently released its annual report on health care cost and utilization. This report highlights health care cost trends and drivers of cost growth, both statewide and by medical group.

Key findings in this year’s report include:

  • The average total cost of care for patients with private health insurance increased by 2.0 percent in 2017, which was slower than cost growth in the previous two years (6.1 and 5.6 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively).
  • New this year is inclusion of hospital outpatient settings for comparing prices of imaging services.
  • On average, imaging services in a hospital outpatient setting cost 45 percent more than the same service in a clinic or stand-alone radiology center.

Across medical groups included in the analysis, there continues to be considerable variation in total cost of care, resource use and relative pricing, and prices for specific procedures.

Read the full report.

Read the Star Tribune’s coverage of the report here and the MPR News story here.

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Applications Sought for Measurement and Reporting Committee (MARC)

MNCM’s Measurement and Reporting Committee (MARC) has openings for two new members beginning February 2019. Members are being sought for the following positions:

  • Medical Group – Medium Metro (one opening)
  • Medical Group – Large Metro (one opening)

New members will replace current members whose terms end in December 2018. In addition to filling the criteria noted above, other information that will be considered includes measurement and quality improvement experience, race and ethnic diversity, and health care background. MNCM is interested in recruiting new members so that a variety of community stakeholders have an opportunity to serve on this important committee.

MARC is a committee of the MNCM Board of Directors with a broad membership of community stakeholders. The committee’s purpose is to recommend measurement priorities and specifications to the Board, and to recommend guiding principles and/or policies for MNCM’s public reporting of measures.

This committee meets monthly, except in January and July. Members are required to attend at least 75% of meetings. Each member serves a two-year term, and has a three-term limit. MARC members may also be asked to serve on a measure development work group. If you are interested, complete an application by the close of business on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Email applications to Anne Snowden, Director, Performance Measurement and Reporting.

After nominations are closed, MNCM staff will convene a committee to review applications and make selections. Our goal is to appoint new members by late January, after which all applicants and those selected as new members will be notified.

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New Face at MN Community Measurement: Trisha Brinkhaus

Trisha Brinkhaus

Trisha recently joined MNCM as a Health Care Data Analyst. She performs statistical analyses including trending, testing patient attribution methods, sampling, data file aggregation, and validation of health plan data. Trisha’s background includes 20 years in the health care industry, including database and application development, reporting, and data analysis. When Trisha is away from the office, she enjoys camping with her family, watching her kids’ various activities, quilting, and dabbling in photography. Welcome, Trisha!

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New Report Sheds Light on Health Care Cost Trends in Minnesota – MN Community Measurement’s annual health care cost report highlights slower growth trends

MN Community Measurement (MNCM), an independent nonprofit organization that empowers health care decision makers with meaningful data to drive improvement, has released its annual report on health care cost and utilization. The report highlights health care cost trends and drivers of cost growth throughout the state of Minnesota and includes data that consumers can use to compare costs of different providers.

Main Findings

Key findings of the report reveal that the average total cost of care for patients with private health insurance increased by 2.0 percent in Minnesota to $563 per patient per month. Growth in 2017 was slower than the previous two years, when the total cost of care increased by 6.1 and 5.6 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively. New this year is inclusion of hospital outpatient settings for radiology costs. Overall, imaging services in a hospital outpatient setting cost 45 percent more than the same service in a clinic or stand-alone radiology center.

Julie Sonier, president of MN Community Measurement, says, “We’re encouraged to see that the cost of health care has slowed in the last year, but we still have a big problem to solve around health care affordability. Making timely and actionable information quickly available is an important part, but only the beginning of how we need to work together to make health care more affordable for everyone.” Compared to other parts of the nation, MNCM provides one of the most robust public transparency efforts related to health care costs that consumers can use to compare providers.

Across medical groups included in the analysis, there continues to be considerable variation in total cost of care, resource use and relative pricing, and prices for specific procedures. Total cost of care ranges from $398 to $1,093 per patient per month on a risk adjusted basis. MNCM’s analysis of prices includes 118 services and procedures that were selected because they are common services and patients may have options to select the location and provider (as opposed to services provided in an emergency).

Impact of Analysis

Minnesota Health Action Group Vice President Deb Krause says, “There’s a lot riding on health care data, and historically that data has been hard to come by and difficult to use. To truly improve health care for the people who write the checks for care across the state – primarily employers and individual consumers – we need reliable, accessible and comparable data.” Krause adds, “Easy access to data can help patients make better decisions about where and when they seek care while influencing how employers construct the health benefit plans they offer to employees.”

Director of Health Care and Transportation Policy at MN Chamber of Commerce Bentley Graves says, “Timely and transparent information about health care costs and pricing is vital to the business community – both to employers and their employees. The data contained in this report provides employers with a powerful tool to constructively engage providers, insurers, brokers, and policymakers about greater accountability, affordability, and accessibility in health care. And the consumer-facing outgrowth of this report, MNHealthScores.org, gives individual employees the ability to actively participate in the management of their health as an informed consumer.”

To see the full report, visit mncm.org/cost-of-care-2018. In addition, the procedure prices and total cost of care at the medical group level can be viewed on MNCM’s consumer-focused website, MNHealthScores.org.

Data Source

The report includes data from an analysis of health care costs for Minnesotans who have private health insurance. The analysis in this report is based on the claims data for 2017 from the four health plans with the largest commercially-insured patient populations in Minnesota: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica Health Plans, and PreferredOne. The analysis includes the actual costs of 1.5 million patients and total spending of more than $8.6 billion in 2017.

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New Help Desk Features for Data Submitters

MNCM has implemented new help desk features for data submitters who have technical questions about MNCM measures. Data submitters can submit questions using the MNCM email support@mncm.org and from there will be connected to a Knowledge Base and will be able to track their question through a ticketing system.

MNCM Knowledge Base

The MNCM Knowledge Base contains searchable information about clinical quality measures and other technical questions related to registration and data submission. The Knowledge Base will continue to grow as new content is added.

Data submitters can also reach MNCM by phone to ask questions at 612-746-4522.

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2018 Annual Seminar Highlight: Choosing Wisely

At our 2018 Annual Seminar, MNCM President Julie Sonier sat down with Executive Vice President and COO of ABIM Foundation Daniel Wolfson to discuss the Choosing Wisely campaign and the progress it has made in reducing low-value care.

The Power of Conversation

Since its launch in 2012, the power of conversation has been the driving force of the Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation. With its mission to promote conversations between clinicians and patients in order to avoid unnecessary medical tests, treatments and procedures, the Choosing Wisely campaign has called national attention to this vital initiative. Choosing Wisely has created a number of resources, for both physicians and patients, to help facilitate conversations about care, including:

  • A list of campaign partners
  • Patient-friendly informational materials
  • Communication education modules to aid physicians in conversations with their patients
  • Videos featuring prominent health care leaders on the impact of the campaign
  • Stories that highlight the work of organizations implementing the campaign across the country

Empowerment is Key

In the discussion between Sonier and Wolfson, Wolfson stressed the importance of patients being empowered with the knowledge and tools necessary to advocate for their own health care. Choosing Wisely, along with medical specialists, partnered with Consumer Reports to create a list of five basic questions that all patients, regardless of background, could understand and use to prompt a conversation with their physicians.

The five questions were printed on cards and have been distributed to over 200,000 patients across the United States. The questions are as follows:

  1. Do I really need this test or procedure?
  2. What are the risks and side effects?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I don’t do anything?
  5. How much does it cost, and will my insurance pay for it?

These guiding questions allow patients to get the answers they need in order to make educated decisions regarding their health care.

To read more about the Choosing Wisely campaign, read success stories, or access resources available to both health care professionals and patients, visit choosingwisely.org.

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Annual Clinic and Provider Registration is now Open

MNCM’s Data Portal opened November 1 for annual clinic and provider registration. Every year, all eligible Minnesota clinics and providers are required to register and update their information.

Get Started

To get started, please download and review the registration instructions and educational webinar from the MNCM Data Portal Resources tab or from the Training and Guidance section. Organizations that have not registered with MNCM previously can request a portal account today. Registration is a prerequisite to submitting data for the clinical quality measures in 2019. Although the portal will be open for registration through Feb 8, 2019, we encourage data submitters to register early. There are no changes to the registration requirements this year.

Questions? Please contact MNCM at 612-746-4522 or support@mncm.org.

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New Report Compares Total Cost of Care Across Regions

MNCM has been involved and contributing data to a five-year program to test the feasibility of measuring regional variation in total cost of care, relative resource use, and overall commercial health care pricing.

This program was funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and coordinated through the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI). Using the same methodology developed by HealthPartners that MNCM uses for the Minnesota market total cost of care measure, the project compared the cost, use, and prices of Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, and the St. Louis area.

The recent report compares costs, resource use, and pricing across regions for 2016.

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