"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

Minnesota Medicine Article Highlights MNCM Role in Driving Quality Improvement

The August issue of Minnesota Medicine, a publication produced by the Minnesota Medical Association, features 10 stories of clinics and medical groups that have improved the quality of their care in recent years. The article highlights the critical role that MN Community Measurement in particular and measurement in general has played in driving quality improvement in Minnesota.

“Since 2011, all Minnesota clinics and hospitals have had to submit their quality improvement (QI) numbers annually for a variety of measures to MN Community Measurement. … This emphasis on measurement has led organizations to take QI seriously.”

The article profiles 10 clinics and medical groups that have successfully achieved high-quality care and/or patient experience in certain areas. Clinics and medical groups highlighted include Catalyst Medical Clinic in Watertown; Allergy and Asthma Specialty Clinic in Willmar; Pediatric and Adolescent Care of Minnesota in West St. Paul; South Lake Pediatrics in Minnetonka; Entira Family Clinics; Cromwell Medical Clinic in Cromwell; HealthPartners; CentraCare River Campus and Health Plaza clinics in St. Cloud; Lakewood Health System Pillager Clinic in Pillager; and Fairview Health Services.

For instance, South Lake Pediatrics described how they dramatically improved the quality of their mental health care between 2010 and 2013. Acknowledging that “most of us in primary care pediatrics weren’t trained to adequately deal with mental health issues,” Dr. Dale Dorbin says the key was integrating mental health care into their practice including hiring a mental health coordinator, creating a registry to track the care their patients were receiving and helping their physicians get more comfortable treated mental health conditions. Previously, 12.5% of South Lake’s mental health patients needed emergency or inpatient care at some point. In 2013, that rate was down to 1.7% due largely to these reforms.

The article also provides actionable ‘how to’s’ for  clinics looking to improve their quality and patient experience of care, including:

  • Pick the right person to manage quality improvement and help staff understand the importance of it.
  • Remember why you’re collecting the data: It’s easy to view QI as just improving scores rather than making sure the patient’s health improves and their condition is well managed.
  • Have a champion for change in the organization.
  • Learn from patients. Engage them and their families in your improvement efforts.
  • Build strong relationships with patients. The more engaged they are, the better your results will be.
  • Listen to all members of the care team – from receptionists to clinicians – and give them an easy way to report errors and near-errors.
  • Understand what patients experience. View your operations from their perspective.
  • An electronic health record system is critical to success.
  • If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Read the full article in the August issue of Minnesota Medicine.