"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

MNCM welcomes new board chair

Penny WheelerThis month, four-year board veteran Dr. Penny Wheeler steps up to become the chair of the MNCM Board of Directors. Penny is president and chief clinical officer for Allina Health System and is a member of Allina’s Executive Leadership Team. She leads the organization’s quality and value agenda through alignment of clinical and operational leadership to optimally benefit those served by Allina Health.  In 2011, she was selected to participate in a national leadership program to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

“My knowledge of and appreciation for MNCM began many years ago and was heightened when I came into my role helping to lead and support quality at Allina,” explains Penny. “We aligned many of our goals with those community measures.  At that time, we were giving optimal care for diabetics at about 11percent. Now it’s close to 50 percent. I truly believe that you improve what you measure and pay attention to, and so many lives are improved by doing so.”

Penny is an obstetrician/gynecologist who loves being a doctor and taking care of patients; she still sees patients one day a week. As a physician, one of the things she observed was “spots of absolutely brilliant care,” and her passion for improvement was spawned by the belief that it could be done more consistently.

“When you align yourself to measures that matter, you can improve a whole lot of lives,” she says. “That’s the real intention here. When you look at our care in Minnesota, relative to others, that seems to be the case. Last year, Modern Healthcare featured Minnesota on its cover as the place to go if you get sick. We want to transform that to keeping people well, too. I think MNCM, as well as a couple other secret sauce ingredients in Minnesota, is a big part of that.”

Penny says that she is looking forward to her new role on the board, which represents a wide range of health care perspectives and interests. “I feel very confident in the inter-professional collaboration that’s occurring on the board. It will move us to elevate our performance in the community; I feel pretty bullish about that. I also feel pretty lucky to be in Minnesota. We have high collaborative tendencies, even among competitors.  That serves us well in this new world. We’ve got a ways to go, but we are so much better positioned than other places.  Again, I attribute part of that to alignment around the measures that matter.”

Penny was recently married to her partner of 18 years, and the couple has a teenage daughter. Although it’s hard to believe Penny would have much spare time, she says she’s been doing a lot of two-column geometry proofs with her daughter, and she also loves travel and in-line skating.

MNCM is thrilled to welcome Penny to her new role as board chair, and we look forward to a productive year ahead.

View this article and others in The Measurement Minute — January 2014 newsletter.