March 14, 2019
MDH releases new clinical care data for communities
Whether you are talking about product development, professional sports or health care, it’s hard to make progress on big challenges in the 21st century if you don’t start with a good foundation of data. Recognizing that, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is releasing, for the first time, a set of clinical quality-of-care measures broken down by zip code as well as a number of demographic factors.
The goal is to provide advocates, researchers, community groups, health care providers and other stakeholders accurate and reliable information they can use to develop new policies and projects that improve health and limit the impacts of chronic disease. The data can also help communities identify differences in health care quality and develop community health profiles.
MDH developed these data sets based on recommendations from communities impacted by health inequities. The information comes from Minnesota clinics collected as part of the Minnesota Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System, a system to track clinical performance quality.
“Every Minnesotan should be able to access high-quality, affordable clinical care regardless of their zip code,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “To achieve this goal, we need a variety of strategies built on a strong foundation of data. I am thankful for the efforts of the health department and partners to move forward on this.”
According to Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm, the data being shared this week can help communities work towards ensuring that all Minnesotans have access to quality health care – regardless of who they are or where they live.
“The opportunity for good health and health care is unevenly distributed in Minnesota, and that has negative impacts for all of us,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Sharing this data set will make it easier for communities and individuals to develop new strategies that improve health care outcomes across all parts of the state, and for provider organizations to partner with them in those efforts. Considering how much we pay for health care, it’s important to do whatever we can to improve the return on that investment.”
Minnesota’s statewide measurement system assesses care in clinics for asthma, diabetes, heart disease, depression, adolescent mental health and colorectal cancer screenings. Many of these measures have been reported at the clinic or medical group level since 2004 by Minnesota Community Measurement, a nonprofit organization that collects, analyzes and reports health care data related to quality and costs at the clinic and medical group levels. The data are anonymous and do not include any personally identifying information.
Starting this week, researchers and the public can get the data summarized geographically by zip code, gender and type of health insurance – a rough stand-in for income. In the future, MDH plans to create public use files with input from community partners that include information on race, ethnicity, preferred language and country of origin.
“It is definitely encouraging to see these data finally becoming available,” said Monica Hurtado, racial justice and health equity organizer from the nonprofit Voices for Racial Justice. “We have known for a long time that better and more accessible data are key to addressing health and racial disparities in Minnesota.”
Since 2014, MDH has worked with community members and organizations to make information on clinical performance more accessible and useful. Through this work, Voices for Racial Justice and community partners provided recommendations to MDH on the collection and use of clinical data in support of health equity. Based on that input, MDH developed public use files, a companion guide and infographics that illustrate what users can learn through analysis of the data. Additionally, MDH will present this information together with communities and work with users of the data to gain insight into what communities are learning from the information and how to improve these public files over time.
Some of the early findings from the 2015 data include:
- Boys were more likely than girls to have their asthma under control.
- Adults on Medicaid were less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer than people covered by Medicare or commercial insurance.
- 48 percent of adolescents living in rural areas received routine mental health screening, compared to 70 percent of adolescents in urban areas.
- 49 percent of children in rural areas received optimal asthma care compared to 69 percent in urban areas.
- 63 percent of women received optimal vascular care compared to 68 percent of men.
For more information about obtaining files, see Public Use Files.
The goals of the Minnesota Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System are to enhance market transparency by creating a uniform approach to quality measurement, improve health outcomes and reduce acute care spending. MDH partners with Minnesota Community Measurement (MNCM) to obtain the data for mandated measures, and MNCM independently reports results on MNHealthScores.org.