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Quality Update - Health care quality issues for Minnesota's health care leaders

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Addressing Health Equity Requires the Tools of Quality Improvement

Minnesota is a state which prides itself on some of the overall highest quality health care in the nation, yet we're vexed by some of the worst health disparities and outcomes for communities of color and other vulnerable and underserved populations. Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm expands on the systemic issues in her Stratis Health board column about why health equity matters for the state.

Emerging payment models tied to health outcomes are allowing health care organizations to act in new ways to address disparity issues. Stratis Health brings to the table quality improvement methods and expertise—such as community planning and capacity building, data gathering and analysis, and best practice sharing—as tools that aid the transformation of health care in ways that achieve health equity..

Father and son rowing in lake

In working to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions for Medicare consumers, Stratis Health helped form 10 care coordination communities across Minnesota in geographic areas that show disparities in care. Our West Metro Coordination of Care Community is piloting an effort to identify and address social determinants of health. A diverse range of partners—including acute and post-acute care settings, senior living, and a fire department—are starting to screen individuals who have had a health crisis reflecting social factors. With that data, they will identify resources to address needs, build relationships with the resource organizations, and create a discharge planning process that connects patients to these local resources.

People in rural communities experience significant health disparities. Stratis Health, in conjunction with our partners at the University of Iowa's RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis at the College of Public Health, is sharing innovative care delivery approaches to transition rural communities and health care organizations to a high performance health system. Rural communities are innovating to reduce disparities by:

  • Using predictive analytics, which includes social determinants of health, to assess risk level for health services and better target services and support.
  • Integrating high-quality legal services into clinical and community support services offered to low-income chronically-ill patients.
  • Offering a community reinvestment program that prioritizes diverse organizations working together to achieve quality targets.

Recognizing that lack of affordability and waste in the system causes disparities in clinical care, and emotional, and financial harm for patients, Stratis Health is co-convening "Accelerating Affordability" with ICSI and MN Community Measurement. I invite Minnesota's public and private sector leaders to join me at this November 29 event so, together, we can envision the ideal future and identify actions to advance affordability.

We need persistence, innovation, and collaboration to make progress in reducing disparities and improving health equity in Minnesota. We also need actionable tools, and Stratis Health will bring the quality improvement toolbox.

Jennifer Lundblad


Jennifer P. Lundblad, PhD, MBA

President and CEO, Stratis Health