All posts by Martha Burton Santibanez Relaunch is One Year Old!

One year ago, MN Community Measurement re-launched our corporate website, with the goal of increasing functionality and providing a better experience for visitors. (MNCM also runs, our consumer-focused, public reporting website.) It’s exciting to look back and see if we’ve met our initial goals.

During the past year, has doubled the number of total visits from 16,400 to 32,375 this year while providing easier access to the most used information, such as data submission guides and statewide reports. We have also utilized a range of new capabilities for videos, webinars, and secure posting of protected content for provider education and data reviews throughout the year. And we launched a new format and online registration for this publication, our Measurement Minute newsletter!

Finally, we launched new social media capabilities, where followers can stay current with the most recent updates from MNCM. To get connected, follow our News feeds and join our LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook communities.

A few fun facts from the past year include:

  1. MNCM’s websites have had more than 110,000 visits during the past year.
  2. The record number of visits to occurred on August 15, 2013 when we released statewide patient experience data for the first time. Nearly 9,500 visits occurred on that single day – a jump of over 6,000% from the same day one year earlier!
  3. More than 15% of visits to MNCM’s websites come from a smart phone or tablet.
  4. @MNHealthScores recently reached a Twitter milestone – 500 followers!
  5. Our most re-tweeted @MNHealthScores tweet was “How do they do it? Videos from the front lines of quality improvement on payment, reducing readmissions, & cost
  6. Our Facebook followers seem to appreciate a more personal touch – one of the most popular posts all year featured the baby shower of one of our staff members.

The early successes of our corporate website formed the basis of a new overall online strategy for MNCM, which emphasizes audience engagement, membership development, expanded use of social media, and ensuring business continuity.

And our next major milestone is the redesign of our consumer-focused, public reporting website, MN HealthScores. The new HealthScores site will incorporate evidence-based approaches to consumer engagement and use industry-standard technology to deliver scalable performance reports and resources. We expect the redesigned MN HealthScores to launch later this year.


Implications of Cholesterol Guideline Changes on Diabetes and Vascular Measures

MN Community Measurement continually evaluates the validity of quality measures utilized by the community and our stakeholders. In late 2013, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiologists released new joint practice guidelines that shifted the focus on cholesterol management from a target LDL to the appropriate type and dose of statin.

The current Optimal Diabetes and Vascular Care measures include a component that evaluates how many patients achieved their target LDL in an effort to reduce their overall cardiovascular risk.

Upon direction from the MNCM Measurement and Review Committee (MARC), a sub-committee of the MNCM Board of Directors, a workgroup was recently convened to review the new guidelines and discuss the implications for measuring cholesterol management. The workgroup agreed cholesterol management is still an important component of reducing cardiovascular risk, and thus, recommended redesigning that component of both the diabetes and vascular measures to align with the new guidance.

Since data collected in 2014 is from 2013 dates of service when the clinical guidance changed very late in the year, there will be no change in the collection or reporting of 2014 data. In 2015, MNCM will collect data on LDL for both measures; however, that component will be suppressed from measure calculation and public reporting. We expect to collect and report on the measures under newly-designed cholesterol component specifications beginning in 2016.

In the meantime, medical groups have inquired about what they can do to help prepare for any potential data submission related to changes.

Based on the preliminary measure discussions, we suggest medical groups:

  • Review EMR medication / order system to identify the defined statin drug list, and be prepared to provide data elements including statin drug names, date of the most recent order for statin, and patient’s daily prescribed dose in milligrams.
  • Consider potential ways to capture defined contraindications especially for statin allergy, intolerance or drug-drug interactions as these are not definable by diagnosis code and will rely on EMR based fields.

These elements are subject to change following the measure development workgroup’s review and measure design later this year.

We will continue to keep you informed as we progress toward a redesigned measure for 2016 reporting year.

For greater detail on the current measures, guideline changes and the process to re-design the cholesterol component specifications, please read Cholesterol Components for Diabetes and Vascular Measures April 15,2014


Minnesota takes top ranking on new health-performance scorecard

Minnesota takes top ranking on new health-performance scorecard
By Susan Perry | 05/01/14

Minnesota is ranked first among all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the 2014 edition of the Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health Performance, which was released Wednesday.

The scorecard measured 42 health indicators, including insurance coverage, vaccination rates, preventable hospital visits, obesity, suicide rates, smoking rates and cancer deaths from 2007 to 2012 — just before the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began to be implemented.

That’s not to say that Minnesota scored well on all 42 indicators. We ranked 37th, for example, in the category “children ages 19 to 35 months who received all recommended seven doses of vaccines” and 48th in the category “home health patients whose wounds improved or healed after an operation.”


Read the full Minnpost article:


Sexually transmitted diseases rose 10 percent in Minnesota last year

Article by Jeremy Olson, Star Tribune
Updated: April 16, 2014 – 9:48 PM

Health professionals worry that the risks are being ignored, doctors slow to promote testing.

A 10 percent increase in sexually transmitted infections last year has Minnesota health leaders concerned that people are unaware of the risks and that doctors aren’t pushing testing hard enough.

A record 18,724 chlamydia infections were reported last year, a 4 percent increase from 2012, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Wednesday. Infections involving gonorrhea and syphilis aren’t as common, but the number of reported cases increased last year by 26 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

More than half of the chlamydia and gonorrhea infections involved teens and young adults ages 15 to 24, and health officials suspect there are many more whose infections are undiagnosed and are either unaware of the risks or afraid to get tested because it would mean disclosing they are sexually active to doctors and parents.

“They are basically silent carriers who can infect other people,” said Dr. Andrew Zinkel, associate medical director for health plan quality at HealthPartners, a Bloomington-based medical provider. “That’s why the rates are going up everywhere,” including in urban, suburban and rural parts of the state.

While an increase in chlamydia cases could be due to more frequent testing, state clinic performance data suggest the opposite: that a lack of testing allows people to spread their infections to new sexual partners. Only 40 of the 138 clinic groups reporting to Minnesota Community Measurement test more than half of their young, sexually active females for chlamydia.

Read the full article >>


Medicare data: Minnesota providers collect less on average than peers

By Christopher Snowbeck

The federal Medicare health insurance program winds up paying the fare for many of the ambulance rides provided by the city of St. Paul.

That’s why the city in 2012 was one of the largest single recipients of the program’s payments among nonhospital health care providers in Minnesota, according to data released this month by the federal government.

Of more than 19,000 providers who in 2012 cared for Medicare patients in Minnesota, St. Paul’s take of more than $2 million was the ninth-largest individual sum.

Whether they were providing ambulance rides or treating illnesses, the state’s nonhospital providers collected less money on average in 2012 than their peers across the country, according to a Pioneer Press analysis of the data.

Health care experts say relatively low payments in Minnesota make for a familiar story, since low use of health care services here means doctors and other providers tend to collect less overall from Medicare.

“We tend to not only have lower prices here, we tend to have lower utilization,” said Mark Sonneborn, vice president for information services at the Minnesota Hospital Association.

“Where a physician somewhere else might see a patient six times per year, we see a similar patient four times — it’s just our way.”

Read the full article >> 


Changes to Optimal Asthma Care Measure Announced

After a robust review process and rich community discussion, MN Community Measurement’s Measurement and Reporting Committee (MARC) has voted to remove the written asthma management plan component from the Optimal Asthma Care composite measure.

This change will be effective beginning with the 2015 report year (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 dates of service), and will not impact ongoing 2014 data submission or reporting.

MNCM, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, strives to continually assess the value of quality measures utilized by the community and stakeholders. We rely heavily on empirical evidence and community input as we consider changes to measure specifications. Diverse perspectives are heard and carefully considered. We believe this transparent, multi-stakeholder process allows us to have an aligned set of measures that everyone can use, which benefits patients, providers and the community.

If you have any questions about this change, please contact us at or


President’s Letter by Jim Chase

As we thaw out from the harshest winter in 30+ years, I am reflecting on the busy season we had at MN Community Measurement as we rolled out new measures, welcomed new staff, and kicked off new and expanded partnerships. One of the most integral of those partnerships is with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), so I’m excited to let you know that MNCM has renewed its contract with MDH to collect and provide data for several statewide reporting programs.

Our new contract will run through December 31, 2015 and covers the Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System (SQRMS), Health Care Homes (HCH) and Community Transformation Grant (CTG) programs.

The renewal of this partnership allows us to draw upon the multi-stakeholder, collaborative process that our community has been using for 10 years to identify and implement measures for statewide reporting. It means clinic and medical group reporting for state programs remains aligned with that used by other stakeholders, such as health plans and some federal programs. Ultimately, this reduces the reporting burden on Minnesota providers.

One area of our contract that has gotten quite a bit of attention from the community is around sharing patient-level data with MDH. For the duration of the contract, medical groups will be able to choose whether they want MNCM to share patient-level data with MDH on a per measure basis. Details about this option are available in the MNCM Data Portal.

We are excited to continue our partnership with MDH, and continue implementing data collection and measurement for these state programs.

Finally, on behalf of myself and our staff, thank you for your patience and understanding during this process.

Enjoy the spring!


Massive doctor data release aimed at helping consumers

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – It is considered the mother lode of doctor information and up until recently consumers did not have access to it.

Once the clock strikes midnight on the east coast, Medicare plans to release billing records for more than 800,000 physicians across the country.

RELATED from USA Today: Medicare data release puts scope on payments, reach

“It’s the market place of ideas. Don’t keep the data bottled up,” said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook.

Krughoff said the release is a big win for consumers. Since 2005 his advocacy group has been fighting to make this type of data public, even suing the government.

“I hope it will be a part of a wider trend for information to be available to consumers,” he said.

The data will show payments to doctors for their services and how those payments compared to other physicians.

While the federal government is only releasing data from 2012, Krughoff believes the information will eventually allow consumers to look up how often a doctor has performed a certain procedure.

“Doctors who have done more cases with certain types of procedures on average are going to do better in terms of their results,” he said.

There has been some push back by the American Medical Association, according to the Associated Press.

A spokesperson told the AP, a “broad approach to releasing physician payment data will mislead the public into making inappropriate and potentially harmful treatment decisions and will result in unwarranted bias against physicians that can destroy careers,” said AMA president Ardis Dee Hoven.

The AP also reports the access could change the way medicine is practiced in America by combining billing data with other sources of information which would allow people to focus in on a certain doctor.

Just because the information is available, however does not mean it will make it easier for consumers.

Geoff Bartsh, a vice president at Medica told KARE 11, the information the government plans to release Wednesday will be vast and unfiltered, which is why he doesn’t call this a game-changer, at least not yet.

“I think we’re a ways away from again finding a way to display the data, that is will be a game-changer for the consumer,” said Bartsh.

A Medicare official told KARE 11 a website could be set up for consumers as soon as later this week allowing people to look up individual doctors as it relates to their billing records.

Bartsh said Minnesota has been a head of the “transparency curve” as it relates to medical information. He points to Minnesota Community Measurement, a website that allows consumers to learn more about health care providers in the state.

Read the full story:


A Focus on Quality and MNCM Data Improve Patient Care Results

A community makes a difference in providing effective health care

Two poor communities have contrasting approaches to  healthcare. One takes a collaborative approach to medicine, creating better outcomes for residents receiving treatment.

By  Noam N. Levey
Photography, video by Carolyn Cole
March 9, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. — Patients begin lining up outside Capitol City Family Health Center before the doors open at 7:30 a.m.

The clinic, on a ragged stretch of the boulevard that separates the black and white sections of town, is a refuge for thousands of this old southern capital’s poorest and sickest residents. They come seeking relief from diabetes, heart disease and other debilitating illnesses.

Twelve hundred miles up the Mississippi River, in the shadow of a public housing tower in St. Paul, Minn., the waiting room at the Open Cities Health Center also fills daily with the city’s poorest.

But the patients in Minnesota receive a very different kind of care, which  leads to very different outcomes. They are more likely to get recommended  checkups and cancer screenings. If very ill, they can usually see specialists.  Their doctors rely on sophisticated data to track results.

Diabetics at the St. Paul clinic are twice as likely as those in Baton Rouge  to have their blood  sugar under control. That can slow the onset of more serious problems such  as kidney failure and blindness.

Young patients with asthma also benefit from Minnesota’s more comprehensive  medical system. Asthmatic children in the state’s poorest neighborhoods are 37%  less likely than those in Louisiana to end  up in a hospital.

And poor seniors in Minnesota are half as likely to be prescribed  a high-risk drug and 38% less likely to go to the  emergency room for an ailment that could have been treated in a doctor’s  office.

Read the full article >>


AF4Q Highlights MNCM’s Composite Diabetes Measures

Composite Measures: A New Gold Standard in Diabetes Care

Type II diabetes has become a national public health threat. As a chronic disease, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability.  As rates of diabetes increase, so, too, do associated direct and indirect costs.  Aligning Forces for Quality communities that have implemented customized diabetes composite measures into their public reporting structures are already experiencing success in both clinical outcomes and improved performance. Synthesizing indicators of good diabetes management has helped simplify the challenges of chronic care management while improving efficiency and performance.

Read the full article >>


MNCM Presents At The 2014 IBH Conference

MNCM Presents At The 2014 IBH Conference

Jasmine Larson, Manager of Health Care Measure Development for MN Community Measurement (MNCM) will present a session on “Lessons Learned from Exemplars on the Operational Practices Aimed to Implement and Sustain Workflows for Depression Care Follow-up and Documentation” at the 2014 Integrated Behavioral Healthcare conference  on April 25, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Centered on the theme of “Building a Framework So You Can Grow”, the 2014 Integrated Behavioral Healthcare conference will feature national and local experts who will describe the present and future of Integrated Behavioral Health. Key topics include:

  • Management strategies during integration
  • Facilitating an active role for patients in their own recovery
  • Engaging the primary care team
  • Making the case for workable payment models for integrated behavioral healthcare
  • Developing meaningful measurements for quality behavioral care
  • Strategies for reaching patients beyond the office

More details on featured speakers, accreditation, and registration can be found in the IBHC agenda or by visiting



The Measurement Minute — February 2014

MNCM Newsletter Header

Welcome to the February 2014 issue of The Measurement Minute, MN Community Measurement’s monthly summary of current news and events. We welcome your feedback!

New 2013 Health Care Quality Report available

  • MNCM’s 10th annual Health Care Quality Report is now available to be viewed or downloaded. Read more >>

MNCM measures used in PQRS, national programs

  • MNCM is pleased to announce that PQRS has included MNCM’s Optimal Vascular Care measure in its suite of measures for the 2014 registry reporting option.  Read more >>

Welcoming new staff members

  • In January, MNCM welcomed three new staff members, each of whom fills a critical role within the organization.  Meet Erin, Amy and Jen. Read more >>