"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Wishing a Happy Retirement to Tina Frontera

With gratitude, MN Community Measurement (MNCM) bids farewell and best wishes to Chief Operating Officer Tina Frontera. Tina announced her retirement earlier this year, effective at the end of 2017.

The MNCM Board of Directors made a special presentation acknowledging Tina’s more than five years of leadership and service at the December 13, 2017 board meeting. A joyous celebration of her MNCM colleagues was held in December for staff to share their stories and fond memories with Tina.

“I have had the honor of working alongside Tina for many years,” said MNCM Health Economist Gunnar Nelson. “Her creativity, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness has always made wherever we worked a better place.”

In October, Frontera was succeeded by Liz Cinqueonce in the Chief Operating Officer role. Frontera served MNCM as a Senior Consultant during the final months of 2017.

From all of us at MNCM, best wishes Tina!


MNCM Seeking Medical Group Testing Participants for COPD Measure Development

Indicate Interest by 02/28/2018

MN Community Measurement (MNCM) is seeking volunteers to participate in the pilot testing of a new measure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—Controlling the Impact of COPD on Health Status. Pilot testing focuses on the development and testing of a patient reported outcome (PRO) performance measure.

The measure was developed by a MNCM-convened, multi-stakeholder COPD Measure Development Workgroup, which completed the development of measure specifications in November 2016.

Measure Description:

The percentage of patients aged 50 – 80 years whose self-reported impact of COPD on their health status was low, stable or improved, as determined by the COPD Assessment Test (CAT) or Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ). For more details, view Controlling the Impact of COPD on Health Status Measure and Field Specifications.

Family medicine, internal medicine, geriatric medicine and pulmonology practices that care for patients with COPD are encouraged to participate in the pilot. There are many benefits to participating in a pilot project, including but not limited to: implementation of PRO tools into clinical workflows and electronic record systems, providing feedback for the modification of measure specifications, the ability to have baseline data prior to wide-spread implementation, and the opportunity to gain experience in the measurement activity. Eligible medical groups will be compensated for the pilot– up to $2,000 after execution of contract, and up to $8,000 after successful data submission.

In order to have a representative and informative pilot, we need groups to volunteer to participate! Pilot dates of service start April 1, 2018.

Participation is voluntary, and all results used to analyze the measure’s performance and feasibility will be shared with pilot participants, blinded and not publicly reported.

If you are interested in potentially serving as a test site, please complete this brief survey.  We will review the survey responses to help us select eligible practices.

If you have questions, please contact Tony Weldon at or 612-454-4810. We look forward to working with you!

About this Project

MNCM is leading this measure development project with support from the National Quality Forum (NQF) Measure Incubator™. GlaxoSmithKline, a global leader in respiratory disease, is collaborating with the Measure Incubator as the sponsor of the project. See the NQF website to learn more about the Measure Incubator’s current work.


Minnesota Earns “A” Grade for Quality Measurement Transparency

Minnesota is one of only three states that earned an “A” grade for transparency of physician quality measures in a recent report by Altarum’s Center for Payment Innovation and Catalyst for Payment Reform. Along with Washington and California, Minnesota earned an “A” grade for quality transparency that is based on the following criteria: independent and impartial; data are freely available; data are timely; data are available on large numbers of providers; quality measures used are meaningful; and information is easily found and understood by consumers.

The report also ranks states on price transparency, based on whether the state has a law requiring price transparency. Two states (Maine and New Hampshire) earned an “A” on this ranking. Although Minnesota does not have a law requiring a price transparency website, the pricing information that MNCM makes available through is comparable to what is being published through those state-mandated websites.


New Report Highlights Minnesota Health Care Cost Trends and Variation, with Overall Modest Increase in Cost Last Year

The total cost of medical care increased 3.4 percent from 2015 to 2016 for commercially-insured patients according to a new report released by MN Community Measurement (MNCM).

The report shows an increase in average costs for commercially-insured patients per month from $474 in 2015 to $490 in 2016. Growth in 2016 was lower than the previous year (5.6 percent), but higher than the 3.1 percent growth recorded in 2014.

“Although cost growth in 2016 was moderate compared to historical averages, affordability continues to be a major concern. This problem affects just about everyone, and it is one that we must work together to solve,” said Julie Sonier, MNCM President.

“This report is one way that MN Community Measurement is bringing the power of data, measurement and transparency to the health care affordability discussion here in Minnesota,” said Sonier.

The 2017 Cost and Utilization Report provides the most current comparable and validated cost of health care information, at a level of detail that provides a unique view of health care cost and the drivers of cost in Minnesota.

Report Highlights

The report includes several types of information on health care costs: average costs for 118 common medical procedures; the average total cost of care (TCOC); information on resource use and prices to provide insight and context for understanding variations or differences in total cost; and data on variations in utilization for specific types of services. These data are published at the statewide, regional and medical group levels.

Examples of findings in the 2017 Cost & Utilization Report include:

  • Costs for common medical procedures: There is substantial variation across medical groups in the amounts that they are paid for the same procedure. For example, the amount that providers are paid for an ankle X-ray averages $72, but ranges from $26 to $201. Similarly, the average payment for reading an eye chart was $6 in 2016, but ranged from $4 to $46 across different medical groups.
  • Total Cost of Care: Across the 122 medical groups included in this report, TCOC averaged $490 in 2016, with a range of $386 to $977 per patient per month on a risk adjusted basis. TCOC for men is lower than TCOC for women and lower for children than adults.
  • Resource use and price: Across medical groups, the analysis finds about a 70 percent variation in resource use and 90 percent variation in price, after accounting for patient risk.
  • Utilization of services: Analysis of emergency room use shows a three-fold difference in use after adjusting for patient illness.

“Better understanding of how much variation we have in our medical care system and what factors contribute to the variation is a starting point for strategies to make health care more affordable,” said Sonier. “The measures in this report provide unique insight for comparing and taking actions to manage and reduce health care costs.”

The report uses data from 2016 health insurance claims of more than 1.5 million commercially-insured patients (i.e. those with private health insurance, both individual and employer-sponsored) enrolled with four Minnesota health plans: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica and PreferredOne.

In addition to this report, MNCM publishes total cost of care and the average cost of 118 common medical procedures by medical group level on its consumer-oriented website,

View the current and previous MNCM cost of care reports here.




The role of measurement in overcoming health disparities, with insight from MN Community Measurement (MNCM), was the featured topic during the November 6, 2017 edition of Community Health Dialogues, a radio program on KMOJ FM.

Julie Sonier, President of MNCM, was joined by Gaye Adams Massey Co-Chair of the MNCM Health Equity Advisory Council (HEAC) and Anne Snowden Director of Performance Measurement & Reporting at MNCM.

Want to hear the Community Health Dialogues program again? Click here to listen to the entire conversation.

The weekly radio program is hosted by Clarence Jones. Jones participated at the MNCM Annual Seminar 2017 and spoke about the Clippers ‘N Curls program to reduce incidents of heart attack and stroke in the African American population. Jones invited MNCM to continue the panel discussion, titled In Pursuit of Health Equity, from the seminar, onto the air waves and directly with KMOJ listeners.

“There are so many things that impact good health,” said Adams Massey. She shared her insight as both the co-chair of the HEAC and also as CEO of the YWCA of Saint Paul.

The discussion touched on the importance of collecting health data in efforts to reduce health disparities. Definitions of health equity were shared, as well as the methods used to collect quality measurement data and the usefulness of this information in helping providers and patients to overcome barriers.

“This data is about getting Minnesota healthier,” said Sonier. MNCM works to not only collect the data, added Sonier, but also to disseminate it so that the public and health care professionals can better understand the result and take action based on the results.

The three panelists invited listeners to think of health broadly, more than doctors and nurses. The data, they added, is a tool to help come up with solutions to health disparities.

Sonier ended the program with an invitation for KMOJ listeners to visit and to think of other ways that MNCM could work with community groups to reduce health disparities though quality measurement data.

In addition to the weekly radio program, Jones is outreach director of Southside Community Health Services and Q Health Connections which works with community partners to offer free, weekly blood pressure screenings.


Second MNCM Webinar on QPP and MIPS Available

A second webinar on the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System under Medicare’s Quality Payment Program was recently hosted and recorded by MN Community Measurement. This insightful and brief webinar has been posted online for viewing and review. The webinar informs viewers that measures need to be submitted according to specific timelines noted in the webinar to ensure successful submission by the CMS deadline of March 31, 2018. The webinar is available at this link under the Learn More section. MNCM encourages those interested to check back at this link periodically as the page will be updated with new and helpful definitions, links, future webinars and other useful information.


2018 Annual Clinic and Provider Registration Now Open

The MNCM Data Portal is now open for 2018 Annual Clinic and Provider Registration. Clinics that have not previously registered with MNCM must complete clinic and provider registration. Clinics that have previously registered with MNCM must update their information. All eligible clinics and providers are  required to register annually whether or not they would be required to submit data for clinical measures.

The Annual Clinic and Provider Registration Instructions document provides the directions needed to complete registration to be in compliance with the Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System (SQRMS) mandate. You can download this guide from the MNCM Data Portal or from

The deadline for completing registration is Friday, February 9, 2018.

PLEASE NOTE: Medical groups will not be able to submit data in 2018 until registration is completed.

A recorded webinar on the topic of Annual Clinic and Provider Registration as well as clinical data submission requirements for 2018 is available for viewing at your convenience. The recording link and presentation slides can be found on the MNCM Data Portal and

The MNCM Data Portal has functionality to allow the registration of additional provider types that are not required to register under SQRMS. These providers can also be registered in the Data Portal during Annual Clinic and Provider Registration. Groups interested in taking advantage of this additional provider registration functionality should review the Addendum of the Annual Clinic and Provider Registration Instructions. For further questions please contact MNCM at 612-746-4522 or


Croston Joins MN Community Measurement Board

MN Community Measurement is pleased to announce Kevin Croston, MD as its newest board member. J. Kevin Croston is the chief executive officer (CEO) of North Memorial Health. Dr. Croston has been with the healthcare system since 1993 when he became surgical director of trauma at North Memorial Medical Center which, under Dr. Croston, became a Level I Trauma Center in 1998. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the health system in 2007 where he served until becoming the president of physician services and chief medical officer in 2010.

A board-certified surgeon and fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Croston studied at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and completed his surgical residency at Hennepin County Medical Center. He continues in his surgical practice at North Memorial Health in collaboration with Specialists in General Surgery, Ltd. and has been named one of the regions’ “Top Doctors” through a survey of doctors and nurses conducted by Minneapolis/St Paul Magazine every year since 2006.


MNCM can support Virtual Groups

MN Community Measurement can support Virtual Groups for the 2018 MIPS Performance Year (2019 submission). Virtual Groups are comprised of solo practitioners and groups of ten or fewer eligible clinicians who come together virtually to submit for MIPS. Participants in virtual groups must coordinate with their fellow practitioners and register with CMS by December 31, 2017. Please note, providers cannot change their status once the performance period begins. Please see the CMS website for more information and how to register at