"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

2014 Health Care Quality Report Highlights Significant Increases in High-Quality Asthma Care

Thousands more Minnesotans received the health care they needed during the past year, thanks to improvements made by clinics across Minnesota. This progress is charted in MN Community Measurement’s 2014 Health Care Quality Report, now in its eleventh consecutive year of publication.

In addition to ongoing reporting of clinic and medical group performance for 22 conditions, the 2014 report includes five new measures: Maternity Care: Primary Cesarean Section Rate;  Total Cost of Care; and three Total Knee Replacement measures.

More than 310 medical groups and 1,600 clinics are registered to submit data to MNCM. The annual Health Care Quality Report is a compilation of all measures publicly reported by MNCM during the year. Individual medical group results are available year-round at

Improvements in Asthma Care
A growing number of Minnesota children and adults are getting their asthma under control. More than 2,800 additional children and 4,400 additional adults had their asthma well-controlled during the past year compared to the previous year.

“Since asthma is not curable, managing and controlling it is essential to leading a normal, healthy life,” explained Jim Chase, President of MN Community Measurement (MNCM). “If asthma is not well controlled, it can be serious and even life threatening.”

The percentage of Minnesota adults and children achieving high-quality asthma care both increased seven percent between 2013 and 2014. In addition, both measures have had the largest increases of any clinical quality measures tracked by MNCM since 2011 – 32 percentage points for children and 31 percentage points for adults.

“The gains in asthma care are a reflection of more and more medical groups in Minnesota implementing the patient tools and processes that are recommended for use with asthma patients in their practices,” Chase said.

The highest performing medical group in Minnesota for care of children with asthma was Advancements in Allergy and Asthma Care of Minnetonka with 93 percent; for adults with asthma, it was Allergy and Asthma Specialty Clinic of Willmar with 89 percent. Overall, the East Metro and West Metro regions had the most high-performing medical groups caring for both children and adults with asthma; the Central region had the third-most for both patient populations.

Other Report Highlights
Many other clinical quality measures had notable increases in performance last year, including depression care.

Improvement was noted across all six measures that evaluate outcomes for patients diagnosed with major depression. Depression is a complex condition that affects patients’ mood, thoughts and body; therefore, response to treatment and complete remission are challenging to achieve. In a three-month period, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 days of work and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity. Additionally, the national expenditures for mental health services was estimated at over $100 million 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

Thus, small improvements in response to treatment and remission of symptoms for patients with depression are critically important. Between 2013 and 2014, the outcomes for these measures increased between one-half and three percentage points – resulting in 7,100 additional patients with major depression receiving critical health care services in 2014 compared to the year before.

Clinics in the Wisconsin, West Metro, St. Paul and Southeast Minnesota regions had the largest number of high-performing medical groups across all six depression outcome measures.

Other noteworthy results highlighted in the 2014 Health Care Quality Report include:

  • The rate of adolescents who have received all recommended vaccinations by their 13th birthday increased three percent since 2013, and has increased nine percentage points since MNCM began tracking it in 2012. Similarly, the rate of two year olds with all recommended vaccinations has increased by seven percentage points since 2011. That rate remained stable at 78 percent between 2013 and 2014.
  • Seventy percent of adults age 50 to 75 were up-to-date on recommended colorectal cancer screening, which was a one percentage point increase from 2013. This measure has increased six percentage points since 2011. Additionally, since cancer screenings are recommended for everyone – and not just if a patient has a particular condition – even a small increase has a significant impact. The one percentage point increase from 2013 to 2014 meant an additional 11,000 Minnesotans received potentially life-saving screenings last year.
  • Only 22 percent of first-time mothers in Minnesota had cesarean deliveries last year. In this case, lower rates are better as they indicates fewer cesarean deliveries.
  • Appropriate treatment for bronchitis in adults increased three percentage points between 2013 and 2014. The recommended care is to not prescribe antibiotics because bronchitis is a viral infection. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily increases the risk of patients developing a resistance to them. This rate has increased nine percentage points over the past three years, from 20 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2014, making it one of the fastest-improving clinical quality measures tracked by MNCM.

Review the full 2014 Health Care Quality Report for additional details including clinic performance highlights by region and over time.