HealthPartners Receives National Quality Healthcare Award

Washington — HealthPartners, based in Minnesota, has been selected as the 14th winner of the National Quality Healthcare Award, presented by the National Quality Forum (NQF). The award is conducted in partnership with Modern Healthcare and underwritten by the Cardinal Health Foundation.

“We are honored to receive national recognition for our commitment to quality improvement and public reporting,” said Mary Brainerd, HealthPartners President and CEO.  “As a not-for-profit organization, our mission is to improve the health of our members, our patients and the community. Our focus is simple: to transform health care. It means a great deal to us to be recognized by the National Quality Forum for this work and it is a great inspiration to all of us at HealthPartners to continue our effort.” 

HealthPartners was recognized for achievements in the five areas:

  • Effective prioritization of performance-improvement goals. HealthPartners has a three- to five-year strategic plan, a one-year operational plan and a set of 2010 health goals focused on transforming the continuum of care.

The organization participates in many quality improvement groups, including the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Group Practice Improvement Network and the Leapfrog Group. HealthPartners is also a founding member of the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, an association of providers in Minnesota and the Dakotas that work together to produce evidence-based best practice guidelines.

  • Well-designed and deployed “scorecard” to measure and manage whole system performance. HealthPartners uses a “balanced scorecard” to measure progress on its organization goals. The scorecard is divided into four sections: people (effective use of employees), health (achievement of clinical quality-improvement goals), experience (delivering the service that consumers want at an affordable cost) and stewardship (ensuring good financial results).The organization also uses a clinical indicators report in addition to the scorecard, which compares providers’ performance on 36 measures. Not only are these metrics followed on an organizational level, but providers are measured against group averages, past performance and HealthPartners’ goals, as well as external data available from the state of Minnesota and various national quality-improvement initiatives.
  • Data-driven improvement of patient care. HealthPartners began integrating electronic medical records into its system in the mid-90s. Installation began in clinics in 1997 and was finally completed at 399-bed Regions Hospital in St. Paulin the summer of 2006. “Having the EMR in place has been a huge asset for us,” Brainerd says. “It allows us to measure much more effectively and do a better job of coordinating care.” A significant portion of provider reimbursement is based on performance. HealthPartners pays annual bonuses for achieving quality targets. In 2006, the areas included optimal care for coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes and preventive care, as well as use of information technology.
  • Commitment to transparency. In addition to its participation in the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, HealthPartners is also a founding member of MN Community Measurement, a non-profit organization that communicates provider quality information to the publicHealthPartners provides members with abundant quality-of-care data on its Web site (www.healthpartners.com). Report cards show how clinics score on treating asthma, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. The cards also report on elements of patient satisfaction, such as the average length of time spent in the waiting room or the ease of getting advice over the phone, both before and after hours. HealthPartners also ensures quality data and measurement information are available to its providers, including how quality is measured, how much money is in the incentive pool and how each provider compares with others in the network.
  • Demonstrated results of high-quality care. Improved cardiovascular care has reduced by about 4,000 the number of deaths from heart disease. HealthPartners members with diabetes suffer 100 fewer heart attacks, 140 fewer amputations and 740 fewer eye complications each year compared with the 1995 rates. Since 2002, generic drug use has increased from 45 percent to 58 percent, creating savings of $62 million. Also, almost 80 percent of adult members had all recommended preventive services in 2006, up from 67 percent in 2004.

NQF will host a gala reception on March 8, 2007 in Washington, D.C. to present the award to HealthPartners. 

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About HealthPartners 
HealthPartners (www.healthpartners.com) is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with commercial and Medicare Advantage plans that received the highest rating of “Excellent” from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.  Today, HealthPartners insures one out of four people in the Twin Cities, and is a major insurer in the upper Midwest.

About the NQHA

The National Quality Healthcare Award was created in 1993 by the National Committee for Quality Health Care and is the first award of its kind to recognize outstanding quality-driven healthcare organizations. For 14 years, the Award has provided encouragement for improvements in quality through public recognition of organizations’ accomplishments. The Award moved to the National Quality Forum (NQF) as a result of the 2006 merger with the National Committee for Quality Health Care.