Minnesota Community Measurement One of 14 Programs Selected for $300 Million Nationwide...

Thu Jun 5, 2008 11:30am EDT

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Minnesota Community Measurement One of 14 Programs Selected for $300 Million Nationwide Effort to Dramatically Improve Quality of U.S. Health Care

    Initiative Puts Minnesota at Forefront of Health Quality Reform
                               Movement

      New Report Shows How Minnesota Compares to Nation on Health
                               Measures
MINNEAPOLIS--(Business Wire)--
Against the backdrop of a new national report highlighting
dangerous deficiencies in the quality of U.S. health care, the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced a major new investment
with Minnesota Community Measurement and 13 other community-based
programs around the country as part of a $300 million initiative to
spearhead health-quality reforms through regional collaboratives.

   Known as Aligning Forces for Quality, RWJF's initiative is the
largest effort of its kind ever undertaken by a U.S. philanthropy. An
unprecedented commitment of resources, expertise and training, it
brings together patients, health care providers and payers to turn
proven practices for improving quality into real results. It will lift
the overall quality of health care, reduce racial disparities and
provide models for national reform.

   "Across America, there are serious gaps between the health care
that people should receive and the care they actually receive," said
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation. "Despite having the most expensive health
care system in the world, patients are subject to too many mistakes,
too much miscommunication and too much inequity."

   Minnesota Community Measurement was selected for the initiative in
a competitive process to find the states and communities best
positioned to make fundamental and cutting-edge changes to rebuild
their health care systems. In addition to providing expertise,
technical assistance and training from national experts, RWJF will
provide Minnesota Community Measurement with more than $1 million over
three years and access to additional grants for specific projects.

   "Everyone in the health care system wants to deliver high-quality
care, but the fragmented nature of our health care markets and
delivery systems often prevents key players from working together
toward that common goal," said Jim Chase, executive director,
Minnesota Community Measurement. "We are excited to be selected for
this initiative, so we can bring all the parties together - those who
get care, give care and pay for care - to drive real improvements in
Minnesota."

   New research commissioned for the Aligning Forces for Quality
initiative shows that the quality of health care can vary dramatically
in the United States, depending on where people live and their race.
The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice's
"Dartmouth Atlas Project," one of the nation's leading authorities on
how health care is delivered in America, conducted the report. It
shows that, in many places, people do not receive the treatment they
should get to help them stay healthy or effectively manage their
chronic diseases. Examples include women getting recommended
mammography tests or patients with diabetes getting essential blood
tests.

   Most strikingly, researchers found significant differences by race
and by region in whether patients lost a leg to amputation, a
complication of peripheral vascular disease and diabetes.

   African-Americans lost legs to amputations at a rate nearly five
times that of whites - 4.17 per 1,000 African-American Medicare
beneficiaries, compared to 0.88 per 1,000 white Medicare
beneficiaries. In Louisiana, the state with the highest rate of
amputations, 1.66 of every 1,000 beneficiaries lost a leg to
amputation in 2003-2005, compared to the national average of 1.14.
Utah fared best - 0.50 per 1,000 beneficiaries.

   "These variations are demonstrable evidence of the unacceptably
uneven nature of health care and health disparities in America," said
Elliott Fisher, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Health Policy
Research at Dartmouth and one of the report's co-authors. "We must
close these gaps and lift the quality of care for everyone."

   The report reveals opportunities to improve the quality of care
locally. The quality of care is high in Minnesota, but there is always
room to improve: For example, three in 10 women insured by Medicare
are still not getting recommended mammograms and one in 10 patients
with diabetes are not getting crucial blood tests. The rate of
amputations due to complications from peripheral vascular disease and
diabetes is well below the national average, but the amputation rate
is far higher among African-Americans than among whites.

   In addition to Minnesota, Aligning Forces for Quality will
concentrate its resources in 13 other states and communities across
the country, including: Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit,
Mich.; Humboldt County, Calif.; Kansas City, Mo.; Maine; Memphis,
Tenn.; Seattle, Wash.; South Central Pennsylvania; Western Michigan;
Western New York; Willamette Valley, Ore.; and Wisconsin.

   "We know that given today's complicated health care system, it is
hard to believe that anything can actually change," said Bruce Siegel,
M.D., M.P.H., research professor at the Department of Health Policy at
The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health
Services and the newly named director of the Aligning Forces for
Quality national program office. "But we are confident that this
effort will work in communities if we have everyone's help."

   Aligning Forces for Quality was originally launched by RWJF in
2006. In the first phase, the communities began efforts to improve
health care for patients with chronic illness in outpatient settings,
such as doctors' offices and clinics. With this expansion, Aligning
Forces for Quality community teams will now strive to improve care for
all patients across all settings by:

   --  Helping physicians improve the quality of care for patients;

   --  Giving people information that helps them be better partners
        with their doctors in managing their own health and make
        informed choices about their health care;

   --  Improving care inside hospitals, with a special focus on the
        central role that nursing plays; and

   --  Reducing inequality in care for patients of different races
        and ethnicities.

   RWJF has for years worked to develop strategies and tools to
improve health care quality. These efforts include funding for the
development of quality measures, early pay-for-performance
experiments, a new model for providing chronic care and programs to
improve cardiac care, nursing and eliminate racial disparities or to
target specific diseases such as asthma, diabetes and depression.
Aligning Forces for Quality will bring the proven practices developed
in these and other efforts to bear in the 14 communities.

   With the expansion of its Aligning Forces for Quality initiative,
the Foundation will also make available new content on the
Quality/Equality section of its main Web site, www.rwjf.org. The
Quality/Equality Portfolio section of the site features an expansive
library of new interventions, tools, resources and related videos to
help providers and others improve the quality of care in their
communities. These "Promising Practices" have been developed based on
the findings and lessons learned from RWJF-supported programs to
improve health care in a variety of settings.

   See today's report and find more information about Aligning Forces
for Quality at www.rwjf.org/qualityequality.

   The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health
and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest
philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health
care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of
organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve
comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years,
the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous,
balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health
care of those it serves. By helping Americans lead healthier lives and
get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in
our lifetime.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
Jyl Woolfolk, 202-572-2802
or
MN Community Measurement
Jim Chase, 612-455-2911

Copyright Business Wire 2008
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