"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

President’s Letter by Jim Chase

Minnesota tops the nation in many health care surveys, so it’s no surprise that we’re well positioned to take advantage of – and even drive – national activities in quality measurement and value based purchasing. I am excited to update you on alignment of the local and national measurement work that is driving improvement in cost, quality and patient experience of care.

The National Quality Forum, a non-profit organization in Washington, DC, plays an important role in standardizing health care quality measurement across the country and recommending measures for use in Medicare value based purchasing and meaningful use programs. I have been honored to serve on the NQF Board of Directors since January and MNCM’s practical experience in both measure development and data collection has been useful in NQF’s strategic discussions. The NQF Board recently approved the testing and use of socio-demographic adjustment in health care measurement, which will become increasingly important as measures are more widely used in payment programs. Minnesota has an opportunity to lead by demonstrating the best uses of this data to encourage improvement without masking the disparities in outcomes for certain populations. (Learn more information on the NQF socio-demographic pilot here.)

NQF is also exploring the opportunity to establish a “measurement incubator” which would support the development of new, high-value measures. There is wide recognition that our health care system needs better measures, such as those with patient-reported outcomes, to support care improvement and value based purchasing. NQF could play an important role in identifying measurement development priorities and then matching potential funding with successful measure developers, such as MNCM.

MNCM is also participating in new partnerships to align and support measurement work in communities across the country. We will soon begin participating in a project to share measurement standards and best practices across multiple communities with a goal of identifying approaches that are scalable nationally. Additionally, we continue to deepen our partnerships with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Consumer Reports on the DOCTOR Project, which seeks to develop consumer-friendly clinic quality reports that will be distributed in 10 communities across the nation; and with the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement to collect and report a standard Total Cost of Care measure in five communities nationally.

Equally as important, MNCM strives to align local and national measures and data collection to lessen reporting burden for data contributing providers in Minnesota and surrounding communities. In the past, we have been successful in having MNCM measures adopted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for their Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Meaningful Use, and Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Shared Savings Program. We continue to support existing alignment while also advocating for additional alignment wherever possible. We are excited to have early indications that several new MNCM measures will be adopted by CMS for 2015 reporting in all three federal programs.

These exciting opportunities and partnerships remind us that while Minnesota is at the forefront of health care measurement and improvement, we must also continue to push ourselves so our community and nation ultimately achieves the goal of delivering the highest quality care with the best patient experience for the most efficient cost.

I am excited to see what the rest of the 2014 has in store for our community, and how much closer it brings us to achieving these goals!