January 2023

President’s Column

Gabrielle Rude, PhD

This month our board of directors determined our strategic priorities for the next five years. We apply continual improvement philosophies to our strategic plan-setting visionary goals (the ideal state) for the long-term and continually adjusting our detailed plan on how to get there. Our long-term vision includes:

Comparative Data: Continuing in our leading role providing comparative data that facilitates improvement via learning between health systems.

Health Equity: Serve as a statewide convener of thought leaders committed to reducing health disparities, utilizing data to provide focus and collaboration to create strategies to reduce disparities.

Value Acceleration: Connect quality and cost to drive upstream improvements in healthcare value. In this month’s feature article, we highlight early work to evaluate the impact of Wisconsin's investment in healthcare quality.

Engage Wisconsin Employers and Stakeholders: Engage employers directly in our work to drive improvement.

SPOTLIGHT: The Impact of Quality Interventions on Long-Term Costs

Wisconsin’s Quality Efforts Dramatically Reduced Long-Term Healthcare Costs

Quality improvement interventions have a significant impact on healthcare costs over the long run. WCHQ’s longitudinal data can identify which interventions result in improved patient outcomes. In times of limited resources, understanding this information is critical to selecting effective interventions and driving improvement.

WCHQ’s recently released Health Care Value Report (currently only available to members) included an assessment of the correlation between WCHQ member’s quality performance on diabetic health outcomes. Here we provide one example of this analysis across all member health systems.

WCHQ members have exceptionally high quality compared to most national standards- with only 24% of the total WCHQ population with poor A1c control compared to 37.5% of commercial HMO patients nationally. Poorly controlled diabetes is a precursor for numerous health complications and associated costs (on average, adding $1,700 to the annual cost of care per patient according to CMS). Applying the National Commercial HMO control rate to the WCHQ population means Wisconsin avoided, the report showed that, collectively, WCHQ’s member health systems have avoided an estimated $104 million in costs associated with uncontrolled diabetes through improvement efforts (HEDIS).

This analysis is a small preview of additional reports and analysis WCHQ will produce in 2023 by applying similar cost avoidance methodology for other facets of healthcare to identify opportunities for improvement. Members will receive analyses specific to their organizations. We will use this information to identify high performers who are reducing healthcare costs while improving outcomes in order to spread these strategies across the WCHQ membership.

If you have questions or need a copy of your member-specific report, contact Abbey Harburn, or Brian Slattery.

Register for Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease & Heart Failure Associated with Type 2 Diabetes Event

Disparities in Chronic Kidney Disease & Heart Failure Associated with Type 2 Diabetes

February 2, 2023

11:30 AM – 1 PM


This event will examine the burden of heart failure and chronic kidney disease, and disparities in heart failure and chronic kidney disease prevalence in the US, particularly among patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The speakers will outline interventions to mitigate health disparities and initiatives to advance equity in heart failure and chronic kidney disease diagnosis and management.

The event is free to WCHQ members and sponsors, corporate sponsors, and annual partners. Contact Jen Koberstein for more information.  

The agenda and information on additional WCHQ events can be found here.

WCHQ Board Recognition and New Members

WCHQ is made stronger by the professionals who share their expertise by volunteering to serve on the Board and Committees. WCHQ recognizes the individuals who have made countless contributions at both the Board and Committee levels who ended their service at the end of 2022.

Dr. Jonathan Jaffery will be leaving his role on the board and with UW Health for a position with the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Dr. Mark Thompson has served on the WCHQ Board in various roles including as a past Board Chair for more than 10 years.

Dr. Jesley Ruff was the first board member to represent an Oral Health Provider and was past chair of the Improvement Advisory Committee.

Dr. David Rushlow was most recently the Nominating Committee Chair and has served as the Board Chair among other roles over a period of nearly ten years.

The WCHQ Board of Directors welcomes three new members in 2023:

Sue Anderson
Regional President
SSM Health Wisconsin

Melissa Pollari
Vice President of Health Services Operations
Dean Health Plan and Prevea 360

Tim McKevett
President and CEO
Beloit Health System

WCHQ Board Chair Imran Andrabi, MD expressed his appreciation to both the in-coming and the current board members.

“We are fortunate to have new and returning Board members who are focused on our mission to improve the health of the communities they serve,” Andrabi said.  

The complete list of WCHQ Board members is here.

WCHQ Staffing Announcements

Sutkay Joins WCHQ Team

WCHQ is pleased to welcome Renee Sutkay, CSW, LPC, as a Quality Improvement Specialist. Renee holds a Master of Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling degree from University of Wisconsin Madison and bachelor’s in psychology and human services from Edgewood College. Prior to her position with WCHQ, she worked in various leadership roles at a mental health center. She has a background in leadership, program development, and behavioral health.

Harburn Becomes Director  

Abbey Harburn, MPH, has been promoted to Director of Practice Transformation and Analytics. Abbey has been with WCHQ for 5 years, serving in a variety of roles including most recently as Analytics Manager. Her role will include the existing Practice Transformation department which will be expanded to have an enhanced focus on providing additional information and actionable data, which is now feasible via our Data Voyager platform. The department will soon be posting a new position for an analyst; follow WCHQ's LinkedIn Page for job postings.  

Craker Joins WCHQ Team

Carmen Craker will join the WCHQ team later this month as the Director of Business Development and Member Engagement, a role previously held by Mary Kay Fahey. Carmen has years of experience in marketing, communications and relationship building in various healthcare settings.

Join Team Working to Increase the Likelihood of a Healthy Mom and Baby at Time of Delivery

WCHQ is participating in an 18-month project to reduce morbidity and mortality rates among at-risk pregnant women in Wisconsin and we need member participation. WCHQ will use data to identify areas for improvement and work with health systems on best practices to drive improvement. This project will improve the upstream factors that impact maternal morbidity and mortality and improve maternal health before the mother arrives at the hospital for birth.  

The kickoff meeting for this project will take place in late January based on participant availability. For more information or to participate, please contact Lori Bue at lbue@wchq.org.

Join the Asthma Improvement Team

The use of the Asthma Control Test (ACT) or similar tools is critical to determining if a patient’s asthma treatment plan is working. The WCHQ Asthma Improvement Team has developed a quality measure to determine use of the ACT and to track outcomes. The Team is now focused on using this data to drive improvement.

If your organization is interested in improving asthma control, WCHQ can work with your data team to collect this information to use as a way to help improve the testing frequency and improve outcomes. You can join the Asthma Team even if you’re not ready to collect data. To learn more or join the team, contact Lori Bue.

HPV Vaccine Project Open to WCHQ-Member Health Systems and Clinics

Sign-up now to join the 2023 UW-UNC HPV Vaccine Project to improve adolescent vaccination in your health system.

In collaboration with WCHQ, the UW-UNC project team will work with health systems to deliver a brief, evidence-based HPV vaccination communication workshop, known as Announcement Approach Training. Content includes traditional approaches, such as using presumptive announcements, as well as newer ones, such as how to start HPV vaccine discussions at age 9. WCHQ data will be used to track improvements.

Health systems will receive a 1-hour CME communication workshop for providers and clinical staff in primary care clinics and additional training for one or more Vaccine Champions. Champions will deliver the HPV vaccine communication workshops to half of the health system’s participating clinics and experts from the project team will deliver workshops to the remaining clinics. 

This workshop has been shown to increase HPV vaccination by five percentage points (Brewer et al, Pediatrics, 2017) and save physician time during clinic visits (Malo et al., Implementation Science, 2018). It will also help reduce conflicts with patients and ensure your improvements are sustained.  

This project is funded by the National Cancer Institute. Project leads are Elizabeth Cox, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and health services researcher, and Meghan Brennan, MD, MS, an infectious disease physician and health services researcher, both at the University of Wisconsin; along with Melissa Gilkey, PhD, a behavioral scientist at the University of North Carolina.

Training will begin shortly with workshops delivered to participating clinics in Spring 2023.

Interested in participating or have questions?

Contact Jen Koberstein or the UW-UNC project team at prokids@pediatrics.wisc.edu or 608-263-1202. The team will set up a brief meeting to discuss the project and answer questions.