April 2024

WCHQ Maternal Health and Immunizations Assembly to take place May 7 in Madison

Registration Ends April 29

There is still time to register for the WCHQ maternal health and immunizations seminar. With the theme, “Driving Change: Education and Awareness for Immunizations and Maternal Mortality in High-Risk Communities,” the event will take place Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Event topics include:

  • Data driven approaches to reducing maternal mortality and increasing immunization rates.
  • Implementing solutions for safety and equity for mom and baby.
  • Collaboration of health system and area food pantry delivering food to new families.
  • Education and data around vaccines that are new or lower uptake.
  • Community health worker perspective on barriers they see to getting immunizations.

Event details and registration information are available on the WCHQ website. Employees of WCHQ member organizations may attend the event free of charge. The registration fee for attendees not affiliated with a WCHQ member organization is $80. Registration is requested by April 29, 2024.

Mark Your Calendar!

WCHQ Education Event Dates

For more details, or to register for an event, click on the event title

April 30, 12:00-1:00PM
Webinar –
“Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Toolkit Launch”

Margaret Hennessy, MD will explain the importance of building trust, message delivery, listening to patient/parent concerns and providing accurate resources as parents make immunization decisions. She will also walk through WCHQ’s Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Toolkit for Primary Care and explain how to use it in a care setting.

Funding provided in part by Wisconsin Department of Health Services Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Title V MCH Block Grant

May 15, 11:30AM-1:00PM
Webinar –
“Asthma Efforts Across Wisconsin: Showcase of Programs Making an Impact”

Topics and speakers include:

  • "Wisconsin’s Asthma-Safe Homes Program: Outcomes from Year One,” presented by Meridith Mueller, MPH, Evaluation Specialist and Molly Zemke, MPH, Program Manager, Wisconsin Asthma-Safe Homes Program
  • “Results of a Pharmacist-Provided Asthma-Related Medication Therapy Management Program” presented by Kari Trapskin, PharmD, Senior Vice President, Practice Transformation, Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin
  • “Building the Capacity of Wisconsin’s Healthcare Professionals to Manage Asthma (and COPD)” presented by Jill Heins-Nesvold, MS, Nationwide Senior Director Health Systems Improvement, American Lung Association
  • “The Wisconsin Asthma Coalition: Working Together to Take Control of Asthma” presented by Carissa Hoium, MPH, Environmental Health Program Leader, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin

Funding provided in part by the Cooperative Agreement from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Wisconsin Asthma Program

June 4 11:30AM-12:30PM
Webinar –
“WCHQ Health Disparities Improvement Toolkit”

Topics and speakers include:

Our presenters are Chris Barron, RPh from Fort HealthCare and Megan Timm, MPH, SSM Health. They are active members of the WCHQ Healthcare Disparities Improvement Team and will share:

  • the basics of the Improving Health Disparities Toolkit
  • how disparities data is important in both driving and measuring improvement over time
  • how integral community partnerships can be in supporting this work
  • opportunities for further work together through our current collaborations

Funding provided in part by a grant through Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment and the Wisconsin Partnership Program

Mark Your Calendars!

Chronic Diseases Assembly – August 15, 2024
DoubleTree by Hilton Madison East, Madison, WI

Statewide Quality Improvement Event – November 7, 2024
DoubleTree by Hilton Madison East, Madison, WI

President’s Report

Blameless Problem Solving

Gabrielle Rude, PhD, President/CEO

WCHQ is on a journey to build a deliberate culture that will take our organization from good to great. We do this by focusing on behaviors (what we expect people to actually do) to align with our mission, vision and values.

Last month, I shared information about one of our fundamentals, Listening Generously, with our full Board of Directors. The behaviors expected to achieve this fundamental may seem initially impossible, especially in today’s virtual world. In order to listen generously, we expect our employees to not multitask during meetings.

Throughout my career. I have become accustomed to back-to-back meetings that leave no time for emailing or planning or any other non-meeting work. I've justified checking emails or finishing a report during a meeting with the belief that it was necessary to get work done. This pattern of being less than fully present has grown exponentially during the pandemic as virtual work made it possible to attend even more meetings. We find ourselves in a vicious cycle where the more meetings we attend, the more we need to multitask and the less efficient the meeting becomes, leading to the need for more meetings. 

At WCHQ, we have improved our ability to listen generously by addressing the root causes of multi-tasking and establishing expectations for highly effective and efficient meetings. Here are a few examples that I’m sure you will find in your organization:

  • Employees were attending solely to hear information directly. Our solution was to establish a consistent process to communicate information to those that didn’t attend.
  • A significant portion of meeting time was spent reviewing materials. We established procedures to distribute meeting materials in advance or the meeting would be cancelled.
  • Leaders, in particular, were attending meetings without a specific role. It was easier to just attend the meeting and multitask than question whether one needs to participate. We reinforced the importance of being present and provided standard language about meeting hygiene so individuals could question and decline meetings without conflict.

As a collaborative, our culture applies also to our Board of Directors, partners and members. We want everyone that is a part of this organization to consistently behave in the WCHQ way. Our journey has been meaningful, productive, and even fun, and we're eager to share our learnings with you so you can apply them within your own organizations. We are happy to share more specific information about our journey; reach out if you want to know more.

SPOTLIGHT: 20 Years Of Measuring and Improvement

Many of the health disparities we see across Wisconsin affect minority populations. WCHQ examines health disparities data related to race/ethnicity, geography and/or payer in our work. We also understand that social determinants of health (SDOH), where people live, work, and play, can further impact health disparities.

WCHQ members are continually utilizing this disparities data and working to reduce health disparities. For example, a member health system is seeing an increase in obesity in the Hispanic/Latino population in a particular neighborhood. The health system has developed a program at a community center to provide diabetes prevention programming and nutrition counseling, alongside physical activity. These interventions to improve health equity within the communities our members serve are impacting disparity gaps.

Here is a look at recent WCHQ measure trends amongst minority groups by comparing the measurement periods ending in December of 2019 and June of 2023.

American Indian/Alaska Native

The American Indian/Alaska Native group has seen big improvements in chlamydia screening, and both blood sugar testing and control for patients with diabetes. Chlamydia Screening rates increased by a leading 16.6%. A1c control and testing increased by a leading 12.2% and 13.7% respectively.

Asian/Pacific Islander

The Asian/Pacific Islander group also saw improvement in their chlamydia screening rates, increasing by 13.1%. Additionally, this group was the only group to improve upon their adolescent immunization rate (90.0% to 91.1%), widening the gap over the next highest group (White – 85.5%).

Black/African American

The Black/African American group improved in blood pressure control, (1.8%), closing the gap with the leading White group from 10 percentage points to 8 percentage points.


The Hispanic/Latino group also showed improvement in blood pressure control, closing the gap with the leading White group to 3.2 percentage points (previously 4.0).

Watch Areas

While we are seeing improvement in some areas of care, we are also seeing gaps widen in others. Research has shown COVID-19 had a disproportionate impact on the care of minority groups, in particular, depression screening and immunization-related measures.

  • Adolescent Immunization Status
    • Hispanic/Latino: decreased by 16%
  • Childhood Immunization Status
    • Black/African American: decreased by 11.8%
    • Hispanic/Latino: decreased by 15.6%
  • Cervical Cancer Screening
    • American Indian/Alaska Native: decreased by 8.0%
    • Black/African American: decreased by 11.4%
  • A1c Testing
    • Black/African American: decreased by 6.1%
  • Screening for Clinical Depression
    • Black/African American: increased by 4.2%
    • Hispanic/Latino: increased by 3.8%
    • Other groups increased by 20%+

Studies have also shown that when socioeconomic positions are equal, the effect of race/ethnicity on health outcomes is diminished significantly (Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Disparities in Health care).

As part of WCHQ’s healthcare disparities improvement work, we will be releasing a toolkit of resources around understanding and improving disparities within Wisconsin. Along with the Health Disparities Improvement team, lead contributors were Korina Henningson, Health Innovation Program UW Madison, Chris Barron, Fort HealthCare and Megan Timm, SSM Health. This team will host a webinar on June 4 at 11:30 am to discuss how to use the toolkit in practice. If you are interested in joining the WCHQ Health Disparities Improvement Team, contact Renee Sutkay, Quality Improvement Specialist, at rsutkay@wchq.org.

Member Profile

In recognition of the WCHQ 20th anniversary in 2024, we are planning a member profile each month.

Member Name: SSM Health of Wisconsin

Member Background Both as a System and with WCHQ: SSM Health Dean Medical Group was a founding member of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) in 2003 and has been publicly reporting data to WCHQ since 2005.

Sue Anderson, Regional President, SSM Health of Wisconsin

SSM Health Monroe Clinic became a member and began reporting in 2005. SSM Health Agnesian joined and began reporting in 2011, publicly reporting data since 2012. In August 2023, the three entities combined as one SSM Health of Wisconsin for public reporting.

Number of Providers: SSM Health of Wisconsin has 1,289 providers.

WCHQ Engagement: As a founding member of WCHQ, SSM Health has been involved with nearly every committee, and has been part of the creation of the many evidence-based Quality Toolkits available through WCHQ.  SSM Health currently serves on the Measurement Advisory Committee, Disparities Improvement Team and on the WCHQ Board.

How WCHQ has impacted the care at SSM Health: “WCHQ allows us to network and collaborate with organizations throughout the state of Wisconsin whether they are based in urban or rural communities,” says Sue Anderson, Regional President SSM Health Wisconsin and WCHQ Board member. “In sharing our data publicly, we can gauge the effectiveness of our own quality measures as compared with similar organizations across the region.  Working through WCHQ’s committees, we can contribute to the development of best practice toolkits to share effective practices to continually improve the quality of care for our own patients and patients across the state.”

BIG WIN for School Aged Children with Asthma

On March 22, Governor Tony Evers signed Assembly Bill 914, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 195. This bill allows schools to adopt a plan for the management of pupils who have asthma. As part of this plan, a prescription for a short-acting bronchodilator can be issued in the name of a school (as opposed to an individual patient) so that this vital medication can be kept on hand. The act also allows the school to accept donations of short-acting bronchodilators or components. If a pupil is experiencing respiratory distress, designated and trained school personnel may administer the short-acting bronchodilator, regardless of whether that student has their own prescription for the medication. Finally, the act also grants immunity from civil liability to the designated personnel who administer the medication.

This is a huge win for school-aged children with both diagnosed and undiagnosed asthma in Wisconsin. Asthma is a common disease; 1 in 12 children in our state currently have asthma. Unfortunately, asthma is also a disruptive disease and 1 in 3 children with asthma miss school. Having a short-acting bronchodilator in stock at school has many benefits: children experiencing respiratory distress can be treated immediately, their caregivers may not have to leave work as often, the child may not have to miss school as often, the number of asthma-related EMS calls may be decreased, and ED visits may be prevented.

Over the next several months, the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition will be working with partners across the state to create a toolkit so that schools can easily and efficiently implement this act so that children across our state can benefit from it.

If your health system is interested in getting involved with WCHQ’s Asthma Advisory Group, contact Lori Bue, Quality Improvement Specialist, at lbue@wchq.org.

WCHQ Webinar “Asthma Efforts Across Wisconsin: Showcase of Programs Making an Impact” May 15 

This important legislation correlates with Asthma Awareness Month, as well as WCHQ’s upcoming webinar, “Asthma Efforts Across Wisconsin: Showcase of Programs Making an Impact.” This free event, scheduled for May 15, will highlight four Wisconsin initiatives focused on asthma. To learn more or signup for this webinar, visit WCHQ website events section.

WCHQ Members Committed to Increasing HPV Vaccination Rates in Wisconsin

Four WCHQ health systems participated in the first session of a training called The Announcement Approach Training, which has been shown to increase HPV vaccination by five percentage points. WCHQ members currently have an overall HPV immunization rate of 69% while the Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative goal is 80%.

Six health systems have signed up to participate in the second wave of training, which started in April and will continue through June.  

Margaret Hennessy, MD, Pediatrician and Medical Director of Pediatrics at Ascension, shared this about Ascension’s participation in the project, “HPV vaccination was one of our quality metrics, so this fit into our program beautifully. We are already seeing improvement in HPV vaccinations in our clinics. The project staff were great, and I heard that the clinicians were very appreciative of the training. We plan to expand this into other clinics in the near future.”  

Twenty primary care clinics from three systems participated in 2023. Preliminary results from workshop participant surveys showed high satisfaction with the training.

  • Almost all (>90%) participants agreed the training improves HPV vaccine communication and workshop facilitators were effective.
  • Two months after the training, most participants (>90%) reported the approach taught in the workshop fit easily in their clinic workflow.

Results from the trainings will be shared with WCHQ health systems at the conclusion of the project after the team has an opportunity to analyze the data.  

To learn about this project, contact Jen Koberstein at Jkoberstein@wchq.org.

Thank You to Our WCHQ Partners for Their Support of Our Work


Novo Nordisk






AboutHealth • The Alliance • Alliance of Health Insurers (AHI)

Bayer • Business Health Care Group • Epic • Exact Sciences

GSK • Health Payment Systems • MetaStar • Moderna

Otsuka  • Rogers Behavioral Health

Sanofi • WellStack • Wipfli • Wisconsin Hospital Association