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Several Minnesota Medical Groups Improve Care for Patients Served by Minnesota Health Care Programs, but Disparities Gap Remains

MN Community Measurement issues second annual report on health care disparities - the first of its kind in the nation

MINNEAPOLIS, April 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Although the care provided to patients insured by Minnesota Health Care Programs, including MinnesotaCare, improved since the last report on eight of nine measures of quality care, a gap remains between the quality of care provided to patients on public health insurance and that provided to patients who have commercial insurance. "Health care providers in Minnesota work hard to treat all patients the same, regardless of their insurance or income. Paradoxically, what may be needed is to meet patients where they are and help them overcome any barriers between them and the health care they need," said James Chase, President of MN Community Measurement, which completed the report under contract with the Department of Human Services.

The report is the second annual report on health care disparities -- a first in the nation effort to provide a large-scale comparison by medical group of the care for public program patients in managed care and that for patients with other insurance. The 2005 Legislature mandated the Department of Human Services to establish a performance reporting system for medical groups serving patients covered by Minnesota Health Care Programs. MN Community Measurement, a nonprofit health care quality measurement organization, prepared the report at "The report is timely since it coincides with the Roundtable on Health Equity convened by Sen. Klobuchar with the University of Minnesota's Health Disparities Forum. You can't improve what you don't measure, so if health care reform is going to reduce disparities it must build on the work of regional and multi-stakeholder collaboratives like MN Community Measurement to collect and publicly report information on how well health care providers are doing," said Chase.

Park Nicollet Health Services achieved comparable rates of optimal diabetes care for both public and commercially insured patients. The 11.8 percent of public patients receiving optimal care was .8 percent better than the 11 percent of commercially insured patients who received optimal care.

Allina Medical Group successfully controlled the high blood pressure of 69.9% of its patients who are enrolled in publicly insured programs. They focused on strategies to improve performance for their entire population, including striving to not miss opportunities to check patient's blood pressure, offering blood pressure checks to established patients at no extra charge, and urging physicians to treat elevated blood pressure aggressively. There was only a very small difference (.18%) between its success on this measure for public insured patients compared to patients with commercial insurance, who had their blood pressure successfully controlled 69.8% of the time.

Alexandria Clinic had the highest rate of breast cancer screening (80 percent for publicly insured patients) and had a significant, but not large gap (4.6 percent) between its rate of screening for commercially insured patients versus that for publicly insured patients.

Four medical groups -- HealthPartners Clinics, Park Nicollet Health Services, Fairview Health Services and Children's Physician Network -- achieved above-average performance rates on at least half of the measures on which they were reported.

MN Community Measurement will produce the Health Care Disparities Report annually and has begun to work with medical groups to collect race, ethnicity and language information which may lead to new methods to improve results for all populations.

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, medical groups and physicians, employers and consumers to spur quality improvement, reduce health care costs and increase the value of health care.

SOURCE MN Community Measurement
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