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Stratis Health – 40 Years of Health Care Quality Improvement

40 Years of Quality Improvement

Stratis Health Timeline—40 Years of Health Care Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Across the Continuum of Care

Since 1971, Stratis Health has been leading and supporting health care quality in Minnesota and nationally—at the provider, community, and population levels, and across the full continuum of health care.

Over the past 40 years, Stratis Health has reached out to nearly every hospital, primary care clinic, nursing home, and home health agency in Minnesota to assist them improve the care they deliver. Stratis Health has had the privilege of guiding and working alongside providers to facilitate improvement in health outcomes and the processes and culture that support care delivery. In both clinical and nonclinical areas, Stratis Health sits at the intersection of research, policy, and practice. At its core, the organization’s work helps providers translate evidence-based research and guidelines into practice to improve quality, advance prevention and wellness, and foster safe and person-centered care.

Stratis Health has continuously held and successfully implemented the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) contract in Minnesota since the program’s inception in the 1970s. Building on the success and results of its QIO program effort, Stratis Health today is a growing organization with more than 60 staff and a diverse funding base. In addition to serving as the QIO, the organization develops and carries out a wide variety of quality and safety improvement initiatives for state and federal agencies, foundations, health plans, and with its Key Health Alliance partners, serves as the federally designated regional extension center for Health Information Technology.

Stratis Health’s strategies and core competencies have evolved as quality improvement and patient safety science has advanced. Currently they include measuring and reporting performance, adopting and effectively using technology, redesigning care processes, and changing organizational cultures. Staff members and their work in the areas of rural health, health information technology, cultural competence, and long-term care quality and safety are nationally recognized.

Stratis Health is celebrating 40 years as an independent, nonprofit quality improvement organization collaborating to improve health across the continuum of care.


Celebrating 40 years of leading health care quality.

Successfully performs the Medicare QIO 9th Scope of Work, and is awarded noncompetitive renewal for next three-year contract cycle.


Awarded federal designation as Regional Extension Assistance Center for HIT (REACH), one of 62 across the country. As a partner in Key Health Alliance, Stratis Health co-leads REACH—one of 62 nonprofit federally designated HIT regional extension centers dedicated to helping providers improve care by implementing and achieving meaningful use of electronic health record systems. REACH intends to serve 5,100 individual primary care providers at more than 400 sites over four years.

Launches Rural Palliative Care Community Development Project and Resource Center. Continues palliative care work with six rural communities, providing one-on-one foundational support and technical assistance for communities planning to establish or strengthen their community-based palliative care services. Develops an online resource center to meet the unique needs of rural communities, building on the evidence-based, actionable resources collected for the communities in the Stratis Health 2008 Minnesota Rural Palliative Care Initiative. Funded by UCare.

Awards two Stratis Health Building Healthier Communities Awards. Serves as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation by funding initiatives that can help build a culture of health care quality in our community. Nominations for the award are made by Stratis Health board or staff members and must align with Stratis Health's mission and vision, advance Stratis Health's work and relationships, benefit the community, and focus on Minnesota.

Lakewood Health System, Staples, MN. Assists in training and embedding use of Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, physician orders to translate a patient's wishes into specific actions for treatment.

Minnesota Shared Decision-Making Collaborative. Assists in enabling patient/community focus groups and a media outreach campaign to promote a common understanding of shared decision-making. The approach aims for clinicians and patients to partner in determining treatment for complex medical conditions when the best therapeutic option is unclear.

Stratis Health President and CEO Jennifer P. Lundblad, PhD, MBA, receives national recognition for leadership work in quality and patient safety through CEO election to  the American Health Quality Association (AHQA) and is appointed to the National Rural Policy Research Institute Health Panel. AHQA is an educational, nonprofit national membership association dedicated to promoting and facilitating fundamental change that improves the quality of health care in America. AHQA represents a national network of community-based Medicare QIOs and other professionals working to improve health care and patient safety.


Launches Culture Care Connection Web Site. The Web site is a Minnesota-focused online learning and resource center. It provides resources and actionable tools to support culturally competent care in Minnesota, including fact sheets on diverse populations in the state and demographic county profiles.

Awards Stratis Health Building Healthier Communities Award: CardioVision 2020. Assists CardioVision 2020 in establishing Web-based community education, awareness building, and social networking heart healthy resources for Olmsted County, Minnesota. Assists CardioVision 2020 in serving as a model and resource for other communities across Minnesota in implementing similar locally-based health and prevention programs.

Begins participating in implementation of Minnesota Health Reform. Partners with other local nonprofit organizations to help carry out Minnesota's Health Reform Initiative, including 1) quality measures/incentive payment design, 2) health care homes, and 3) baskets of care.

Continues development of series of HIT toolkits: Health Information Technology Toolkit for Home Health Agencies  and Health Information Technology Toolkit for Nursing Homes.


Successfully bids to continue to serve as Minnesota Medicare QIO, one of 53 QIOs across the country. Begins 9th Scope of Work under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help Minnesota hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes improve care for people with Medicare. Educates Medicare beneficiaries about their rights under Medicare and becoming smarter health care consumers.

Partners to successfully bid to serve as the National Patient Safety Quality Improvement Organization Support Center. Collaborates with the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality to develop and provide patient safety tools, resources, training, and support to QIOs nationwide to promote leadership and team-building, and to assist in reducing pressure ulcers rates in nursing homes and hospitals and use of physical restraints in nursing homes.

Launches Minnesota Rural Palliative Care Initiative. A multidisciplinary learning collaborative of 10 rural Minnesota communities served by hospitals with fewer than 150 beds to establish or strengthen palliative care programs. Funded by UCare and the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, this project aims to increase resources for palliative care, use of national clinical practice guidelines and measures, and ultimately decrease the number of patients that must leave their community for palliative care services.

Awards three Stratis Health Building Healthier Communities Awards:

Evidence to Practice Program, Winona State University and the Benedictine Health System. Helps shape content and promote statewide best practices knowledge for long-term care facilities available through an online information clearinghouse.

Minnesota Diabetes Collaborative. Provides a matching grant to develop and disseminate visual, low literacy patient education materials across settings of care for people with limited language skills.

Perham Memorial Hospital and Home. Assists  in the creation of innovative approaches to sharing information with other nursing homes and long term care stakeholders about Perham’s experiences implementing a household model of care to improve the lives of those living and working in nursing homes.

Develops Health InformationTechnologyToolkits: Health Information Technology Toolkit for Physician Offices under the national Doctor’s Office Quality Information Technology program, as part of our Medicare QIO contract, and the Health Information Technology Toolkit for Critical Access and Small Hospitals, distributed nationally through the Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) program.

Leads Minnesota Rural Palliative Care Initiative. In partnership with Transitions and Life Choices, the palliative care program of Fairview Health Services, to build palliative care capacity in rural Minnesota.

Establishes the Stratis Health Building Healthier Communities program and selects first two Awards. Serves as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation by funding initiatives that can help build a culture of health care quality in our community. Nominations for the award are made by Stratis Health Board or staff members and  must align with Stratis Health's mission and vision, advance Stratis Health's work and relationships, benefit the community, and focus on Minnesota. 2007 awards:

Institute for Nursing Quality. Assists in providing a resource for practicing nurses to more fully understand quality improvement concepts,  via a Web site, newsletter, and a bibliography with updated nursing improvement resources.

Minnesota Health Literacy Partnership. Assists this coalition of health care consumers and literacy groups, together with the state’s health and social service agencies and provider organizations, in educating providers and consumers about health literacy.


Jennifer P. Lundblad, PhD, MBA, becomes the sixth Stratis Health president and CEO.

Begins annual program to support Minnesota Health plans in developing and implementing Health Plan Performance Improvement Projects (PIPs). Provides support and assistance to Minnesota health plans in developing, implementing, and evaluating health care quality improvement initiatives, through the Minnesota Senior Health Options program. Projects have focused on heart failure, diabetes, depression, pneumococcal vaccination, and optimal medication management.


Successfully bids to continue to serve as the Minnesota Medicare QIO, one of 53 QIOs across the country. Begins the 8th Scope of Work under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help Minnesota hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home health agencies provide increasingly better care for people with Medicare. Works with Medicare beneficiaries to educate them about their rights under Medicare and about being smarter health care consumers.

Begins work on the Culture Matters Initiative, to support health care providers, staff, and administrators in their ongoing efforts to provide culturally-competent care in Minnesota.

Develops and fields the first statewide Electronic Health Record Landscape Assessment of Minnesota's Primary Care Clinics. Surveys more than 600 adult primary care practices in Minnesota to assess the level of electronic health record (EHR) use in the state in preparation for assisting clinics with the adoption and implementation of EHR systems. Survey response rate 75.0 percent.


Receives first ever quality award from the National Rural Health Association recognizing its quality improvement work with small rural hospitals between 2001 and 2004. Stratis Health staff provided tools and recommendations to improve the ways in which hospitals treated patients for heart failure, immunized adults for influenza and pneumonia, and provided smoking-cessation counseling.


Begins annual project to support Minnesota’s groundbreaking Adverse Health Events Reporting Law. Reviews root cause analysis and corrective action plans submitted by Minnesota hospitals when an adverse event occurs. Root cause analysis, staff education and training, and support of implementation of best practices ensures hospitals are responding in a comprehensive and appropriate way to adverse events to ensure patient safety.

Partners with University of Minnesota to implement Understanding Barriers to Health Care Access in Minnesota’s Medicaid Population Project. Develops and conducts focus groups and a statewide survey among African American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, Hmong, and Somali enrolled in state public programs, to better understand their barriers to access and services under the Minnesota Prepaid Medical Assistance Program. Funded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.


Successfully bids to continue to serve as Minnesota’s Medicare QIO, one of 53 QIOs across the country. Begins 7th Scope of Work under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), to improve care in the areas of acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, diabetes, breast cancer, stroke, atrial fibrillation, pneumonia, influenza and pneumococcal immunization, and smoking cessation. Provides Medicare beneficiary outreach and case review, and works on payment error prevention.


Stratis Health celebrates its 30th anniversary of improving health care.


Minnesota ranks 4th in the nation on 22 quality measures important to the health of Minnesota's Medicare population.


Stratis Health begins 6th Scope of Work under its PRO contract with the Healthcare Financing Administration (HCFA) Collaborating with hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, and many partners the organization works to improve health care for Medicare consumers.

Patsy Riley becomes president and CEO of Stratis Health.


FHCE merges with the Health Outcomes Institute to become Stratis Health, a quality improvement organization working with providers and consumers to improve health care.


FHCE engages in a variety of quality assurance and quality improvement work throughout the 1990s. FHCE serves multiple times as the state's Medicaid External Quality Review Organization (EQRO) contractor, conducting HEDIS auditing, and successfully developing and implementing projects for foundations and private health care organizations.


HCFA introduces the Health Care Quality Improvement Program. A radical change in course for FHCE, the new program focuses on collaboration with hospitals and physicians to improve the processes of providing care.


David Ziegenhagen is named president and CEO of FHCE.


FHCE becomes a Peer Review Organization (PRO).


James Rosevear is named president and CEO of FHCE.


FHCE becomes the Professional Standards Review Organization (PSRO) for Medicare. FHCE contracts with the Health Care Financing Administration with its inception of the prospective payment system.


The Foundation for Health Care Evaluation (FHCE) is founded by a group of physicians. The purpose of the organization is to oversee the delivery of quality health care for 600,000 Minnesota Medicare beneficiaries.

Carl Gustafson is named president and CEO of FHCE.