Closing the Gaps in COVID-19 Vaccination Rates
WCHQ’s 2019 Wisconsin Health Disparities Report highlighted the racial and ethnic disparities in vaccination rates for childhood and adolescent vaccines, HPV, and pneumococcal vaccination. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) regularly provides current COVID-19 vaccination rates broken down by demographic data including race and ethnicity. The racial and ethnic disparities found in COVID-19 vaccination mimic those found in WCHQ’s vaccination measures, with 30.6 percent of Black Wisconsinites having completed at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination compared with 49.6 percent of white Wisconsinites. Additionally, 37.4 percent of Native American Wisconsin residents and 42.0 percent of Hispanic residents have completed at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. DHS data also indicates that Wisconsin’s communities of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to barriers caused by social determinants of health.
The disparities in COVID-19 impact vaccination rates highlight the need for increased statewide efforts to address inequities in health care access and outcomes. WCHQ is forming a Disparities Improvement Team to bring health care stakeholders throughout the state together to identify and share best practices to close disparities gaps. If you are interested in participating on this team, contact Abbey Harburn.
Integrating Behavioral Health into Primary Care Clinics
The Collaborative Family Healthcare Association joined the WCHQ Behavioral Health Improvement Team in July to talk about overcoming barriers in implementing integrated behavioral health (IBH) in primary care clinics. Culture change, billing, business goals and measurement were discussed. In addition, the group shared how to examine cost savings of implementing IBH services including decreased emergency department visits and hospital readmission for patients being treated in an integrated model. They also highlighted the importance of looking at quality of life measures for patients engaged in this model of care.
WCHQ members will continue to work on increasing integrated behavioral health in primary care settings as work begins on the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) project, in collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin. If you are interested in joining the Behavioral Health Improvement Team or would like to learn more about the AHW funded project, contact Jen Koberstein.
Improving Access to Obesity Services
WCHQ members on the Obesity Advisory Group recently met with a small group of payers to discuss coverage and payment issues associated with treating patients who are obese. Provers and payers are interested in increasing access to obesity services that will help all patients in this population, but especially those who have or are at risk of developing chronic conditions.
The treatment of obesity, whether it is through nutritional counseling, medication or surgical means is especially important in a state where more than 32 percent of the population is living with obesity. Many of these patients are already impacted by chronic health conditions associated with their obesity.
Priorities for the advisory group include developing measures that will allow health systems to identify best practices, improving quality of life, identifying areas for improvement, working with payers to increase access to services, and helping health system administrators better understand the challenges in treating this population.
If you are interested in participating on the Obesity Advisory Group, contact Jen Koberstein.
Adolescent and Child Health
RSV on the Increase
Like much of the nation, Wisconsin is seeing an off-season increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) this summer. RSV is a respiratory infection that usually rises in frequency during the fall. Pre-term infants are especially vulnerable to hospitalization due to RSV infection. Wisconsin did not see many cases of RSV last fall due to the COVID-19 precautions, leading to more cases earlier this year. As of July 31, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported an 8.8 percent positive rate compared with less than 1 percent in 2020.
This early RSV season also coincides with a surge of COVID-19 among children in Wisconsin. This combination of respiratory illnesses increases the burden on pediatric practices throughout the state. In August, the Adolescent and Child Health Improvement Team reinstated monthly COVID-19 Huddle discussions as part of the standing team meeting agenda. This Huddle allows Improvement Team members to share current strategies, best practices, and struggles related to managing the COVID-19 pandemic in their patient populations. During the August meeting, members discussed issues related to staffing and capacity. In September, the team will focus on staff and personal well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. To participate in the Adolescent and Child Health Improvement Team, contact Abbey Harburn.
Chronic Disease Learning Collaborative, Hypertension Workgroup
The second workgroup series from the Chronic Disease Learning Collaborative (CDLC), met virtually August 23 with a focus on hypertension. A determined group-- it didn’t take long to recognize this team’s commitment to improving quality and sharing best practices.
The health systems and partners participating in the workgroup began with introductions that highlighted current hypertension initiatives and barriers. Members shared a variety of methods used to support hypertension management and accurate readings regardless of the care setting (e.g. cardiology verses primary care). Additionally, the group took note of the complexities related to identifying affordable and compatible equipment to support self-measured blood pressure readings.
The hypertension workgroup members are each tasked with establishing goal(s) that support hypertension care management. Similar to other improvement teams, this group has an opportunity to select a goal focused on disparities by means of screening for social determinants of health or connecting patients to community-based services.
Over the next few weeks, individuals from this workgroup will be establishing SMART goals to work on over the next twelve months. Once goals are established, the group will review them at the November meeting.
Important work- still time to join: the next meeting is November 22, 2021.
Contact Sheryl Pierce if you are interested in joining the Chronic Disease Learning Collaborative (CDLC) or workgroups (diabetes, hypertension, team-based care).
WCHQ CDLC/CDLC Workgroup Schedule 2021-2022.