"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’s Aligning Forces for Quality team receives $1 million to improve quality, value of health care statewide

Minneapolis, MN (May 16, 2013) – Minnesota’s Aligning Forces for Quality team, an alliance of nonprofit organizations focused on improving health care, announced that it has been awarded a grant of $1 million over the next two years for the final phase of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative, a national effort to lift the quality and value of health care in communities across America.

The statewide group, convened by MN Community Measurement, is one of 16 organizations across the country designated as an AF4Q community, and has been participating in the initiative since 2006.

The Aligning Forces for Quality program was originally launched by the Foundation in 2006 and remains the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken by a U.S. philanthropy. Through the program, this group works to improve health care in Minnesota by engaging patients in their care, publicly reporting on the quality of care provided by local physicians and hospitals, implementing quality improvement programs in doctors’ offices and hospitals, and exploring new payment methods to promote high-quality care.

In the fourth and final phase of AF4Q, the Minnesota team will accelerate its work, leveraging progress in these focus areas and striving for sustainable progress in meeting the goals of a reformed health care system: better value, greater transparency, and improved care coordination.

“This grant allows us to continue to collaborate with community leaders, patients, doctors, nurses, employers, and insurers so everyone in Minnesota can receive the right care at the right time.” said Jim Chase, President of MN Community Measurement. “We are committed to finding new ways to improve our health care system so we can have a healthier community.”

In the next two years, the Minnesota group will expand on the cutting-edge changes already under way to achieve sustainable improvements in the quality of health care local hospitals and doctors deliver, while continuing to focus on developing and testing models of paying for health care that encourage high-quality care and use dollars more wisely.

“The final phase of this program is not so much an end as a beginning,” said Anne F. Weiss, MPP, team director and senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Our goal is not just lasting change in these 16 communities, but also to provide models of reform for the rest of the country to follow.”

AF4Q has contributed to a number of statewide initiatives, including helping to support the RARE campaign to reduce hospital readmissions, advancing work in health information technology and efforts to measure the total cost of care in Minnesota. The alliance, drawing on work of many in Minnesota, met several key goals in the previous round of funding, including:

  • Increasing the number of patients achieving optimal care for asthma
  • Increasing the number of patients achieving optimal care for diabetes
  • Saving more than $34 million in the past two years through better management of diabetes and asthma

Future initiatives include:

  • Partnering through the RARE campaign to reduce hospital readmissions for patients with mental illness
  • Increasing awareness and understanding of value-based care and total cost of care measurement
  • Educating patients and providers on patient care and care transitions
  • Engaging people in health information technology
  • Reducing disparities in diabetes management

AF4Q is designed to drive quality improvement by aligning key players in communities, and brings an unprecedented commitment of resources, expertise, and training to turn proven practices into real results. Minnesota’s continued participation brings direct financial support and technical assistance and training from national experts, coordinated by the Center for Health Care Quality at The George Washington University, the national AF4Q program office.

Additional grant recipients include:

  • Albuquerque Coalition for Healthcare Quality – Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Alliance for Health – Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Better Health Greater      Cleveland – Cleveland
  • California Center for Rural Policy – Arcata, Calif.
  • Greater Detroit Area Health Council – Detroit
  • Health Improvement Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati – Cincinnati
  • Healthy Memphis Common Table – Memphis, Tenn.
  • Healthy York County Coalition – York, Pa.
  • Kansas City Quality Improvement Consortium – Kansas City, Mo.
  • Maine Aligning Forces for Quality – Augusta, Maine
  • Massachusetts Health Quality Partners – Boston
  • Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation – Portland, Ore.
  • Puget Sound Health Alliance – Seattle
  • P2 Collaborative of Western New York – Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality – Madison, Wis.

For more information about the Minnesota Aligning Forces for Quality team and its work, visit