"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 is Seeking Workgroup Members for Cost Measure Development Group

MNCM is investigating the feasibility and value of adding an episodes of care cost measure to the current Cost and Utilization suite of measures that is produced annually and is convening a workgroup to advise this project. The scope of the workgroup’s discussion will include risk adjustment, attribution and reporting options. Recommendations will be delivered to the Cost Technical Advisory Group and to the Measurement and Reporting Committee (MARC).

We are looking primarily for medical group participants. No technical expertise in episodes of care is required.

The time commitment is 6-9 months with virtual monthly meetings. If you are interested or have questions, please contact Gunnar Nelson at by February 7.


MNCM in the News

MN Community Measurement’s second topical report – “Quality of Care for Chronic Conditions” – was featured on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) in a piece titled Report: Treatment quality varies widely for expensive chronic conditions. The report was also featured in the Star Tribune in a piece titled Clinics’ grades go down slightly in Minnesota. The articles draw attention to the importance of measuring chronic conditions. With approximately 60% of adults in the U.S. struggling with a chronic condition, treating them makes up a vast majority of the nation’s health care spending.


MNCM 2019 Leadership and Board Announcements

On December 13, the MNCM board of directors approved the election of Beth Averbeck, MD, Senior Medical Director of Primary Care at HealthPartners, as MNCM Board Chair. The board also approved the election of Mark Matthias, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Acute Care Division at CentraCare to serve as MNCM Vice Chair. Both officers will serve in their appointed roles for two-year terms.

MNCM board members continuing to serve in 2019 include:

  • Joseph Bianco, MD, Director, Primary Care, Essentia Health
  • Cara Broich, RN, CPHQ, Senior Director, Quality and Clinical Advancement, Medica
  • Jon Christianson, PhD, James A. Hamilton Chair in Health Policy, School of Public Health, U of M
  • Kevin Croston, MD, Chief Executive Officer, North Memorial Health
  • Howard Epstein, MD, SFHM, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, PreferredOne
  • Bentley Graves, Director, Health Care and Transportation, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
  • David Homans, MD, Minnesota Hospital Association Representative
  • Deb Krause, Vice President, Minnesota Health Action Group
  • Mariam Mohamed, Consumer Representative
  • Dan Trajano, MD, MBA, Senior Medical Director, BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota
  • Mary Ellen Wells, FACHE, Consumer Representative
  • Brian Whited, MD, MBA, Vice Chair-Operations, Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Pam Houg, Office Manager, Minnesota Council of Health Plans (ex officio)
  • Lawrence Massa, President, Minnesota Hospital Association (ex officio)
  • Claire Neely, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ex officio)
  • Jim Schowalter, President and Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Council of Health Plans (ex officio)
  • Janet Silversmith, Chief Executive Officer, Minnesota Medical Association (ex officio)
  • Julie Sonier, President, MN Community Measurement (ex officio)

The MNCM board of directors represents the breadth and depth of the many stakeholder groups we are proud to serve and we extend our thanks to them for their service to our community.

Beth Averbeck Beth Averbeck, MD
HealthPartners Medical Group
Senior Medical Director of Primary Care

Dr. Averbeck is an executive physician leader with extensive experience in organizational culture, clinical operations, governance, quality improvement, measure development, and physician resilience. She joined HealthPartners in 1992 as a practicing internist and is now responsible for HealthPartners primary care practice overseeing 400 clinicians in over 40 practice locations. She maintains a clinical practice in geriatrics.

Her leadership in redesigning ambulatory care has been recognized by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) which named HealthPartners Medical Group the recipient of the Acclaim Award, its highest honor, in 2006 and 2012. In 2010, Dr. Averbeck and her team were honored with an Acclaim Award honoree for their work reducing health disparities.

Dr. Averbeck earned a bachelor’s degree at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and earned a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Minnesota Medical School. She serves on the boards of Minnesota Community Measurement, the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, and the American Medical Group Association.


Mark MatthiasMark Matthias, MD
CentraCare Health
Vice President of Medical Affairs and Acute Care Division

Mark joined St. Cloud Hospital in 2011 as Vice President of Medical Affairs and in October 2015 became Vice President of Medical Affairs and Acute Care Division.

He trained at the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed his residency in Family Practice and Community Health at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. Mark has been a physician leader in Mankato, Hutchinson, and Willmar.


MN Community Measurement Releases Report on Quality of Care for Chronic Conditions

MN Community Measurement (MNCM) has released a new report highlighting quality of care for chronic conditions. The report, “Quality of Care for Chronic Conditions,” presents data collected by MNCM in 2018 on quality measures for chronic disease care, including comparisons by medical group and clinic.

Key Findings of the Report

While Minnesota has some of the best health indicators in the country, measurement results show a pattern of wide variation in health care quality overall and significantly different outcomes among some patient populations. Key findings of the report include:

  • Statewide results for all chronic condition measures have been relatively stable over the last three years but show continued room for improvement. See page 8 of the report.
  • Rates are, on average, significantly better for patients with chronic conditions who live in metro areas. For example, patients with asthma who live in small town or rural areas have the lowest rates. See page 10 of the report.
  • In general, measures of how well chronic conditions are managed mostly improve with age. For example, the highest rates occur among people age 60 and older with ischemic vascular disease. See page 11 of the report.
  • Outcome rates vary by race and Hispanic ethnicity. In general, rates for diabetes vascular and asthma are lower for American Indians, African Americans, and Hispanics. See page 13 of the report.

The report also presents results by gender and language.

The measures were developed or selected for their potential to reduce the modifiable risks and complications associated with these conditions. National and state statistics illustrate the need for improvement in care.

  • Roughly 151 million adults in the United States are physically, emotionally, and financially affected by chronic disease.
  • 60 percent of adults in the United States have a chronic disease and 40 percent of adults have two or more. This number is predicted to increase rapidly in future years.
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or cancer are leading causes of death and disability in the United States.
  • In Minnesota, those diagnosed with chronic conditions accounted for 83 percent of all medical spending in the state in 2012, with an average of $12,800 in health care spending per person.

Although statewide rates have been relatively stable, the report also illustrates substantial variation across health care providers (page 9 of the report). MN Community Measurement President Julie Sonier says, “The reason we do this work is to provide health care decision makers with information that can be used to improve health outcomes. Many health care providers in Minnesota have been very successful in this effort, and we should look to spread these stories of success.”

Measurement Matters

Andrea Walsh, president and chief executive officer of HealthPartners, one of the highest performing medical groups across most measures in Minnesota, says that data drives progress.

“High quality care doesn’t just happen. It’s a continual process that’s guided by data to drive improvement and innovation across our system so that we can better serve patients,” she explains. “This report recognizes the work we’ve done to improve treatment of chronic conditions and pushes us to do better, especially our focus in reducing health disparities among diverse racial and ethnic communities.”

Read the full report.


MNCM, ICSI, and Stratis Health Joint Convening on Health Care Affordability

On November 29, MNCM, the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), and Stratis Health hosted a community event about health care affordability, supported by funding from the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The purpose of the event was to call attention to the problem of health care affordability, and how to improve affordability as a community.

The event began with a presentation by MNCM President Julie Sonier on health care affordability drivers and recent cost trends, followed by a panel discussion led by Jennifer Lundblad from Stratis Health that included panelists representing a variety of perspectives: consumer, employer, provider, and health plan. Dr. Charles Fazio from HealthPartners gave a presentation on envisioning a more affordable health care system, and Dr. Claire Neely from ICSI provided context and led a small group exercise and discussion on barriers to a more affordable system. Participants were asked to identify collaborative action steps toward improving health care affordability in their own environments.

The engaging and energetic event was attended by about 75 local health care leaders.


Clinic and Provider Registration and Direct Data Submission

MNCM’s Data Portal is open for annual clinic and provider registration. All eligible Minnesota clinics and providers are required to register and update their information. Registration instructions and a recorded webinar are available for download from the MNCM Data Portal Resources tab or Registration is a prerequisite to submitting data for the clinical quality measures in 2019.

Clinical quality measures are submitted during two cycles:

  • Cycle A measures are submitted in Jan/Feb 2019 and include the asthma, colorectal cancer screening, depression, diabetes, and vascular measures.
  • Cycle B measures are submitted in April/May 2019 and include the adolescent mental health and/or depression screening, total knee replacement, spine surgery lumbar discectomy/laminotomy, and spine surgery lumbar fusion measures.
  • A detailed schedule is available for download from the MNCM Data Portal Resources tab for registered users.

Questions? Please check out the MNCM Knowledge Base and Help Desk. You can also contact MNCM at or 612-746-4522.


Report on Quality of Care for Chronic Conditions to Be Released Soon

In mid-December, MNCM will publish a report on quality of care for chronic conditions, the second in a new report series organizing quality measures by measurement focus area. These reports bring together performance results on both quality and health equity for measures relevant in each category. The series is intended to provide a more in-depth, user-friendly view of measure results that can more effectively draw attention to the wealth of data that MNCM publishes, engage stakeholder audiences, inform discussions, and catalyze improvement. The new reports present content more concisely using design, context, and streamlined visual displays.

The first report in the series is on depression measures and was released on October 29. The full report can be found here.


Minnesota Rural Health Cooperative Joins MNCM as Newest Supporting Member

Minnesota Rural Health Cooperative (MRHC) was formed in 1995 to facilitate the goals of containing health care costs, improving the quality of health care, and increasing the access of Minnesota citizens to health care services. MRHC exists to provide (through its resources and services) positioning, integration, and strategy in an ever-changing health care environment.

Services include health plan contracting; delegated credentialing; administrative support regarding health plan contracts; approved CAHPS survey vendor; employee satisfaction survey vendor; technology and computer support; networking, peer support, and education.

For information about becoming a supporting member, please contact Dina Wellbrock at or 612-454-4829.


New MNCM Report Sheds Light on Health Care Cost Trends and Variation in Minnesota

MNCM recently released its annual report on health care cost and utilization. This report highlights health care cost trends and drivers of cost growth, both statewide and by medical group.

Key findings in this year’s report include:

  • The average total cost of care for patients with private health insurance increased by 2.0 percent in 2017, which was slower than cost growth in the previous two years (6.1 and 5.6 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively).
  • New this year is inclusion of hospital outpatient settings for comparing prices of imaging services.
  • On average, imaging services in a hospital outpatient setting cost 45 percent more than the same service in a clinic or stand-alone radiology center.

Across medical groups included in the analysis, there continues to be considerable variation in total cost of care, resource use and relative pricing, and prices for specific procedures.

Read the full report.

Read the Star Tribune’s coverage of the report here and the MPR News story here.