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Consumers encouraged to check clinics' 2007 quality performance at www.mnhealthcare.org during benefits open enrollment MINNEAPOLIS, June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Beginning today, health care consumers can go online to www.mnhealthcare.org to view the latest comparative data about the effectiveness of medical care for diabetes and vascular diseases at more than 345 clinics across Minnesota and in bordering areas of Wisconsin and North Dakota. "The data show that where you go for health care matters just as much as what you eat and whether you exercise, especially if you have diabetes or a vascular condition," said Jim Chase, executive director of MN Community Measurement, the nonprofit organization that publishes the data. Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not make insulin or can't use insulin effectively to convert the sugars from digested food into energy. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, one in four Minnesotans either has diabetes or is at high risk of developing it. Vascular diseases include a range of conditions, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease, which restrict the flow of blood to organs throughout the body. People who have diabetes or a vascular disease have a much higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, which are the second and third leading causes of death among Minnesotans. Quality of diabetes care is up, but clinic results vary widely The current data measure care delivered in 2007. In diabetes care, the data show that, taken as a whole, clinics are steadily improving. One hundred seventy of the 318 clinics that participated in the diabetes measure for 2007 also participated for 2006. Across this subset of clinics, the percentage of diabetes patients in optimal control improved from 14% to 24% between 2006 and 2007. When adding in the 148 clinics that began reporting diabetes care results for the 2007 measurement year, the overall rate for optimal diabetes care still improved from 14% to 17%. The optimal diabetes measure assesses five components of care: the hemoglobin A1c test that measures blood sugar levels; blood pressure; cholesterol level; daily use of aspirin and tobacco cessation. "We've been measuring diabetes care for several years, and we are observing that some clinics are consistently performing at the highest levels and standing out from their competitors on the basis of quality," said Chase. For example, Fairview Health Systems' Oxboro Clinic in Bloomington has reported the state's highest percentage of diabetes patients in optimal control for the past two years, and improved from 36% in 2006 to 48% in 2007. Chase also noted that, on average, clinics with electronic medical records (EMRs) scored seven percentage points better on the diabetes measure than clinics that did not have an EMR. A second measure - reported for the first time this year - was optimal vascular care. The statewide rate was 33% of patients achieving optimal scores in four areas of vascular care: blood pressure; cholesterol level; daily use of aspirin and tobacco cessation. The new data show that clinics across the region are not equally successful at helping patients achieve good control of diabetes and vascular disease. For example, the highest-scoring clinic for vascular care reported that 62% of patients had cholesterol, blood pressure and other indicators in optimal control, while just 7% of patients at the lowest-scoring clinic did. Wide variation is also seen on the optimal diabetes care measure, with the percent of patients meeting targets for blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and other factors ranging from 48% at the highest-scoring clinic to zero at the lowest. Online health care buyer's guide Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans with health care benefits through work will soon begin reviewing their health plans and provider selections, as employers conduct benefits open enrollment from late summer through the end of the year. MN Community Measurement's Web site - www.mnhealthcare.org - is a credible source of objective data about the actual results of the medical care delivered at most of the primary care clinics in the state, which is something many employers are encouraging their employees to consider when making health care decisions. "Most people will choose a clinic based on other factors, simply because the quality data hasn't been available in a useful form until now. So they end up picking the clinic that is closest to home, or asking friends and family for recommendations. That will get you a convenient doctor, or a nice doctor, but it won't always get you the best care for your needs," said Nathan Moracco, director of the employee insurance division at the Minnesota Department of Finance and Employee Relations. The State of Minnesota encourages its members to select providers based on overall cost and quality of care and will promote MN Community Measurement's ratings to 120,000 State employees and their dependents for a third consecutive year during benefits open enrollment this fall. State employees can search for quality ratings specific to diabetes and vascular disease and check on the performance of any clinic or medical group they might be considering by clicking links to www.mnhealthcare.org embedded in the State health plan's online provider directory. The State health plan offers provider networks organized around the cost and quality of participating provider groups. Employees who choose providers in preferred groupings are rewarded with lower co-pays and deductibles at the point of care. The University of Minnesota also is encouraging its 17,500 employees to use MN Community Measurement's health care quality information when making benefit decisions. Beginning in mid-September, University employees will have an opportunity to complete an online education program called HealthCare Choices, which covers details about their benefit plan choices, tips on understanding and navigating the health care system, and a guided tour for using MN Community Measurement's Web site to make informed health care decisions. Qualifying employees will receive a $65 cash incentive for completing the course. Visitors to www.mnhealthcare.org will find the new data for diabetes and vascular care delivered by clinics in 2007, as well as quality standards and the results of care delivered by medical groups in 2006 in 10 other categories of preventive care, illness care and chronic disease management. Consumers can search for quality ratings by provider group, quality measure or geographic area. The Web site makes it easy to spot the top-performing clinics with symbols indicating whether a clinic's performance was above-average, average or below average. For consumers with diabetes, MN Community Measurement offers a special Web site, www.theD5.org. "We've designed our Web sites to serve as buyers' guides for health care services," explained Chase. "The quality ratings can help you choose a clinic with a good track record with patients who have concerns like yours, while the information on standards of care can prepare you to talk with your doctor about how to make your care even better. Ultimately, what really matters is the quality of your care." The quality of information is better MN Community Measurement's new diabetes and vascular care measures are the most comprehensive and useful data ever made available to Minnesota consumers about health care quality, because: -- The data is specific to the clinic level. For example, a consumer who lives in Maple Grove can compare the quality of diabetes care at the Allina, Camden Physicians, Fairview, North and Park Nicollet clinics in Maple Grove. -- The data is timely and representative because it is submitted directly to MN Community Measurement from medical records at clinics. This allows for a clinic's entire population with diabetes or vascular disease to be included. The process of validating and publishing patient chart data submitted by medical groups is faster than the traditional process of gathering insurance data and allows for the data to be reported before most employer open enrollment periods. -- The data is comprehensive. Most Minnesotans get their primary care from clinics that participate in MN Community Measurement's ratings. The number of clinics submitting data directly now stands at 329 for vascular care and 318 for diabetes care. MN Community Measurement has observed that differences in quality that were often masked when viewed at the larger medical-group level are revealed when viewed at the individual clinic level. "By switching to the method of clinics sending us data from medical charts, we have made the quality measures much more useful to consumers. In effect, we have moved from being able to tell a consumer that 'Big Health System A' is successful with diabetes patients 6% of the time while 'Big Health System B' is successful 8% of the time, to 'Neighborhood Clinic A' is successful 9% of the time while 'Neighborhood Clinic B' is successful 42% of the time," said Chase. "That's when the information is meaningful and can start to have a significant impact on consumer decisions and behavior." About MN Community Measurement MN Community Measurement is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care in Minnesota by publicly reporting quality results. Founded by Minnesota's health plans and the Minnesota Medical Association, MN Community Measurement is a collaborative that works with health plans, clinics, employers and consumers to spur quality improvement, reduce health care costs and maximize value. SOURCE MN Community Measurement
 
 
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