May 2022

Registration Open for WCHQ 2022 Quality and Value Improvement Event and Diabetes Summit

June 22, 2022

9 AM – 3:30 PM

Monona Terrace Convention Center, Madison, WI

In person and virtual option



Registration is open for the annual 2022 WCHQ Quality and Value Improvement Event June 22 at Monona Terrace. This education session is open only to WCHQ provider members, corporate sponsors and annual partners. The registration fee of $100 includes all conference sessions and lunch.

Highlights during the day include:

  • Angela Fitch, MD, the associate director of Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center and on faculty at Harvard Medical School, will keynote the event with a presentation on “Combination Therapy for Optimal Obesity Care.” Dr. Fitch has been a guest on numerous national podcasts sharing her expertise in evidence-based management of obesity and weight gain.
  • WCHQ will present its 2022 Quality Leadership, recognizing Fort HealthCare. Michael Wallace, Fort Healthcare CEO will describe their approach to quality and community health improvement.
  • WCHQ released its first Health Care Value Report earlier this year. WCHQ President and CEO Gabrielle Rude, PhD, will describe the evolution of this work, how members are shaping the work and incorporating value into their organizations, and what to expect in the future.
  • Mbonu Ikezuagu, MD, vice president and chief quality officer at ThedaCare, will explain how they are using WCHQ data to improve health care value in their organization.

The WCHQ Diabetes Summit, sponsored in partnership with Novo Nordisk will start in the afternoon and feature three outstanding presentations:

  • Caroline Richardson, MD, program director of the Michigan Collaborative for Type 2 Diabetes, will explain how their collaborative is shifting the paradigm for treating and managing type 2 diabetes by engaging and empowering clinicians.
  • Novo Nordisk Patient Ambassador Len Elmore is a former NBA player, sportscaster and lecturer at Columbia University. After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Len tried to stick to his medication plan and healthy lifestyle but found that to be a difficult journey. He has partnered with Novo Nordisk to raise awareness and teach others to recognize the signs of type 2 diabetes. Melanie Smith, DO, Advocate Aurora Health Care, is a family medicine physician with expertise in obesity medicine. Dr. Smith will facilitate a dialogue between the audience and Len Elmore following Len’s presentation.  
  • Eric Johnson, PharmD, BCPS, Gundersen Health, is working with a team that is focused on delivering better care to patients. Pharmacists play an essential role in a diabetes care team, one that will be explored in this presentation.

Registration is open. The agenda is here. The registration fee is $100. This event is open to WCHQ member providers, corporate sponsors and annual partners. For more information contact Mary Kay Fahey.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Pandemic Impact on Mental Health Greater for People of Color and Lower Incomes

The pandemic has increased long-standing health inequities by race, ethnicity and income. A new Commonwealth Fund analysis in April 2022 confirmed that COVID-19 cases and deaths were disproportionately higher in communities with large Black and Latino populations. The impact on mental health concerns was just as pronounced, affecting people of all backgrounds, but again, those with fewer resources were found to be at greater risk for negative health effects.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, Latino and Black people, women, and people with lower incomes are most at risk of mental health concerns due to the pandemic.

^ Difference is statistically significant at p ≤ 0.05.Notes: Black (non-Latino) and Latino respondents were compared to white (non-Latino) respondents. Female respondents were compared to male respondents. Respondents from households with below-average income were compared to those from households with above-average income. Respondents indicated whether their income was either below or above the annual U.S. household average of $62,000. Data: Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy COVID-19 Supplement Survey, 2020. Source: Yaphet Getachew et al., Beyond the Case Count: The Wide-Ranging Disparities of COVID-19 in the United States (Commonwealth Fund, Sept. 2020).

WCHQ has published two reports that are being used to identify the disparities occurring in Wisconsin. WCHQ found significant disparities in the depression screening rate for patients who are uninsured or in the Medicaid program. People on Medicaid or who are uninsured are seen as proxies for poverty. Note the rate of depression screening by payer type for commercial and the uninsured are both 71 percent.

Mental health is only one area in health care that WCHQ and its partners have identified where disparities are occurring. Over the next 24 months, WCHQ will collect and analyze disparities-related data and use it to monitor their progress in mitigating, then eliminating, disparities. To participate in this work, contact Abbey Harburn.

WCHQ Public Reporting Returns

After almost two years, WCHQ is excited to release public measure reporting for the timeframe of July 2019 – June 2020. A total of 27 members reported at least one measure for this reporting period, which is comparable to the level of engagement that WCHQ has seen historically.

Looking at denominators across the last two reporting periods, WCHQ is capturing about 95 percent of the patient volume that it saw prior to the start of the pandemic.

“Given the effects of the pandemic and a transition to a new data vendor, this was no small feat. Special thanks to WCHQ’s Board of Directors, Measurement Advisory Committee and our member data teams for their support in moving forward with the plan to return to a normal reporting cadence,” according to  WCHQ’s Director of Performance Measurement and Analytics Brian Slattery. “Without your engagement, this would not have been possible.”

Slattery expressed his appreciation to the members who have already submitted their 2021 data and for their continued efforts as WCHQ works to improve upon these results for the next reporting period coming up at the end of June.

WCHQ IAC Focuses on Immunizations; Sets 2022 Improvement Goals

Immunizations dropped significantly during the pandemic and as a result, WCHQ members identified improving immunization rates as a top priority in 2022. At the April Improvement Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting, members reviewed childhood and adolescent immunization data and discussed health system strategies that focus on improving immunization rates. The strategies discussed included post-visit planning, reminder recall letters and immunization improvement teams. Members reported on the need to expand the focus of vaccines beyond preventive care visits and prioritize conversations about and administering vaccines at every patient visit. The biggest barriers for providers to vaccinate are vaccine hesitancy and the continued impact of COVID-19. The WCHQ Adolescent Child Health team regularly discusses the delay of routine preventive care resulting in lower immunization rates. That group is identifying strategies to combat hesitancy at an upcoming meeting.

In November 2021, the WCHQ Board approved the 2022 IAC improvement priorities. In addition to immunizations, the other priorities include chronic disease, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. The IAC recently set goals for its member-identified top improvement priorities, which will be broadly promoted and regularly monitored.

The 2022 WCHQ Improvement Goals are:

  • Childhood Immunizations: 83.6%
  • Adolescent Immunizations: 90%
  • Diabetes A1c Control: 73%
  • Controlling High Blood Pressure: 82%
  • Cervical Cancer Screening: 78.5%  
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: 80%

The WCHQ improvement teams will now develop strategies to reach these goals.

WCHQ provider members are invited to join the Improvement Advisory Committee. Contact Cara Winsand for information.

Novel Approaches to Behavioral Health Treatment Shared at WCHQ Assembly

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25 percent increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Even before the pandemic, health care systems had limited capacity in inpatient and outpatient facilities, making it difficult to access services. Now, the situation has become even worse.

The WCHQ Behavioral Health Assembly April 21 brought several specialists together to describe their work and research into increasing access to treatment.

Myra West, PsyD, an organizational psychologist at Marshfield Clinic, described the stress both front line and support staff in health care organizations have faced during the pandemic and shared excellent ideas on supporting them in their work. She discussed the need to have confidential support available to staff so they can process the trauma and grief they have experienced both personally and professionally. Connecting with staff is essential, according to Dr. West, so they can feel comfortable discussing the challenges they face. She provided suggestions that she found helped break down communication barriers so employees could express work and personal concerns.

Martha Saucedo, behavioral health consultant at Access Community Health, is well aware of the issues related to delivering behavioral health services. The focus of her work is to shift the paradigm that professionals are working within to increase availability. Martha talked about how systems and clinics can begin providing integrated behavioral health services in their primary care clinics, one way to increase access and provide treatment sooner. She provided concrete tools to measure levels of integration within a clinic. The link to that assessment can be found here.

The University of Wisconsin is leading research into the use of psychedelics to treat some mental health conditions. Chantelle Thomas, PsyD, described how psychoactive and psychedelic compounds are being used to treat depression, PTSD, and substance abuse disorders. The data clearly supports the use of these medications in treatment. She referenced the work of her colleague, Christopher Nicholas, PhD on the use of psilocybin to interrupt the chaotic process of methamphetamine addictions. That study is open to patients who are currently using methamphetamines. The goal is to use psilocybin as a disrupter to the chaos. If you have a patient who could benefit from that study, please contact Dr. Nicholas.

The WCHQ Behavioral Health Improvement team is discussing issues related to depression screening, depression remission and response, suicide prevention and the challenges of responding to increased demand for services. If you are interested in joining this group, contact Jen Koberstein.

WCHQ Presents Disparities Work at UW Population Health Institute Seminar

Matt Gigot, MPH, WCHQ COO and Jennifer Weiss, MD, MS presented at a seminar focused on disparities April 11, 2022, sponsored by the UW Department of Population Health Sciences. As a regional collaborative, WCHQ has the unique ability to bring its health system members together with stakeholders to solve complex issues.

Gigot explained that the first step to eliminating disparities is understand where they exist. WCHQ has measured disparities in health outcomes and care and benchmarked current performance. In partnership with the Health Innovation Program (HIP), WCHQ has released two disparities reports. The reports provide baseline information on disparities in health outcomes and care in Wisconsin that inform and accelerate programs working to eliminate disparities.

WCHQ is currently facilitating a statewide disparities improvement team with representation from nearly every health system in the state. That group has completed a Charter to define the scope of their work and they are currently developing strategies to bring in stakeholder voices.

In the second half of the online seminar, Dr. Weiss explained her team’s ground-breaking work to define rural and urban places more clearly. They clustered rural and urban ZIP codes into six groups using 11 characteristics that represented health care capacity, economic status, and health status. This new categorization identifies if the population living in a ZIP code is underserved or advantaged using these 11 characteristics. By creating smaller groups, health systems and advocates could more precisely target specific interventions within geographic regions based on the population characteristics of that area. This is not possible using a less nuanced classification system.

With a statewide improvement team in place, WCHQ and its partners will develop targeted reports on populations with the greatest disparities; build statewide capacity to enhance health improvement strategies; and facilitate partnerships to develop and amplify research to target disparities that lack evidence-based interventions.

To learn more about WCHQ’s disparities initiative, contact Abbey Harburn.

NHP Releases New Sociodemographic Report

The UW ICTR Neighborhood Health Partnerships Program (NHP) has now made sociodemographic information more easily accessible and comparable across geographies with the release of the new  Sociodemographic Report. This report provides information on the social determinants of health at the ZIP code level. It uses U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) data to provide additional context about living conditions and demographics for most ZIP codes in Wisconsin.

View a sample report

Request a report

View examples of how to use NHP reports

Understanding data on the social determinants of health can help focus efforts to improve health. Measures included in the reports were guided by Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative Framework and are grouped into four environments: physical, economic and work, service, and social.  

The NHP reports have a variety of potential uses for collaborations between community organizations, government agencies, researchers, health systems, and the private sector. They can be used to identify disparities in health outcomes and care, identify improvement opportunities for communities in need, develop and evaluate programs, and provide data to support planning, advocacy, and grant applications. 

NHPs work is sponsored by the Wisconsin Partnership Program and the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

Contact the NHP Interim Program Director, Lauren Bednarz for more information.

Upcoming WCHQ Education Events

“HPV Vaccination: Can We Do Better?”

May 5, 2022
12 PM – 1 PM CST
A live, virtual education event



Katharine A. R. Price, MD.,

Associate Professor of Oncology
Co-Chair of the Head and Neck Cancer Disease Group
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

The HPV vaccination targets the HPV-related cancers, such as head and neck cancers, cervical cancer and others common to men and women. Dr. Katharine Price is a surgeon and she sees cancers in her practice every day that could have been prevented by the HPV vaccination. Dr. Price is passionate about the importance of the HPV vaccination. At this webinar, she will:

  • Review the indications, benefits and safety of the HPV vaccine.
  • Recognize the clinical presentation of HPV-associated oropharynx cancer and review the epidemiology of oral HPV infection and HPV oropharynx cancer.
  • Summarize the known vaccination rates and health disparities in HPV vaccination.
  • Employ strategies to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine by patients and their families based on published data of the barriers and facilitators of vaccine acceptance.

Direct questions to Mary Kay Fahey.

Precision Medicine: Revolutionizing Health Improvement and Disease Treatment

May 19, 2022
12 Noon – 1 PM
A live, virtual education event



Precision medicine is one of the fastest growing fields in science. The ability to evaluate a person’s genes, environment and lifestyle to determine the best approach for both disease prevention and treatment is now a reality.

This WCHQ education event will increase awareness of diagnostic testing and biomarkers to understand the impact of this testing on patient care. It will provide an overview of biomarker testing, how it is used in cancer care and how it can be applicable in the primary care setting.

This webinar will be of interest to clinicians working in the primary care setting and those that support them. Direct questions to Mary Kay Fahey.

WCHQ Quality and Value Improvement Event and Diabetes Summit

June 22, 2022
9 AM – 3:30 PM
In person and virtual attendance options
Monona Terrace Convention Center, Madison, WI



Keynote Address By:
Angela Fitch, MD

Weight-management and obesity medicine specialist
Co-director, Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center

Also Featuring:
Len Elmore,
Novo Nordisk Patient Ambassador
Former NBA player, sportscaster, attorney and lecturer

WCHQ Adolescent and Child Health Assembly

September 20, 2022
9 AM – Noon

WCHQ Obesity Summit

October 13, 2022
9 AM – 4 PM
The Hotel Retlaw, Fond du Lac

WCHQ Disparities Assembly

November 10, 2022
(Format: TBD)

Improvement Teams


WCHQ Obesity Advisory Group Members Featured in Employer Education Event

Members of the WCHQ Obesity Advisory Group will be featured presenters at an employer-focused education event June 8: “The Obesity Epidemic and Its Impact on the Workplace.” Recognizing that employers and payers play a critical role in helping employees connect with treatment for obesity, WCHQ teamed up with The Alliance, M3 Insurance and Health Payment Systems (HPS) to sponsor an online event designed to build awareness of obesity as a treatable chronic disease.

Melanie Smith, OD, Advocate Aurora and Christopher Weber, MD, Ascension Wisconsin will provide an overview of the disease and treatments that are available. WCHQ Program Manager Jen Koberstein and Melina Kambitsi, PhD, The Alliance, will co-facilitate a question-and-answer session.

Lauren Schrage from Aspirus Health Plan will join Abby Ammerman from H-E-B and describe two employers approaches to identifying and treating employees who seek or who could benefit from services for obesity. Ammerman presented at a WCHQ Obesity Advisory meeting in January 2022. With more than 120,000 employees at H-E-B, Ammerman can share their experience related to offering obesity-centered services to their employees.

WCHQ members, corporate sponsors and annual partners are welcome to attend this free event. To learn more or register, click here.

Chronic Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease Advisory Group Starts to Define Work, Recruit Health Systems

Clearly focused on improving the quality and affordability of care and in turn, improving the health of individuals and communities, the newly formed Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Advisory Group is engaged and ready to make a difference.

Evidence supports the importance of early detection of CKD, but fewer than half of the people with diabetes get both the recommended estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (uACR) screenings. [1] About 40 percent of the patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will develop kidney disease.

The CKD Advisory Group is off to a great start with eight health systems now participating in the development of the charter that will guide this particularly important initiative. At the April meeting, the group prefaced the importance of patient-centric work and proposed to consider the opportunity to work beyond the scope of diabetic patients. A subgroup will meet in May to provide an evidence-based recommendation to present to the larger group in June.

As a new framework is built for this newly formed advisory group, WCHQ is actively recruiting members to create a diverse level of expertise to support this work. To learn more about this work or to join the Advisory Group, contact Sheryl Pierce.    

Team-Based Care

Survey Reveals WCHQ Members’ Approaches to Team-Based Care

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), team-based care has the potential to improve the comprehensiveness, coordination, efficiency, effectiveness and value of care, as well as the satisfaction of patients and providers. WCHQ members have reported challenges throughout the pandemic such as efficiencies within teams, team engagement, and fluctuating staffing models.

Out of 10 different types of team-based care (TBC) elements, members of the Chronic Disease Learning Collaborative TBC Workgroup identified approaches being utilized within their health systems in a recent WCHQ survey. TBC pre-visit planning, team huddles, transitions between specialties and primary care, and patient and provider shared goals were chosen by most members. Members reported they are most interested in re-focusing their efforts on components that support team-based care.

During the March workgroup meeting, members also shared their health system goals related to team-based care. Example goals included: diabetes care planning and managing the workflow between primary care and endocrinology, evaluating efforts around in-basket management and RN quality rooming standards, and focusing on warm hand-offs between departments.

To further guide the work within the CDLC TBC workgroup, the group looked beyond common practices, but also identified the greatest areas of interest. These topics will be addressed during future meetings. The following four areas of interest were identified:

  • Transitions between specialties and primary care
  • Provider/Pharmacy
  • Self-measured blood pressure
  • Referral tracking and follow-up

Does your organization do some great work in one of the areas listed above or are you interested in learning more? Reach out to Sheryl Pierce for an opportunity to join or present at an upcoming CDLC TBC workgroup meeting.


Progress to Address Disparities Depends on Collaboration

The Disparities Improvement Team met this month to finalize a strategy to engage a diverse group of stakeholders in the work of improving health equity in Wisconsin. The Improvement Team recognizes that health disparities cannot be addressed by health systems alone. To make progress on reducing disparities gaps will require collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders, including advocacy organizations, patients, payers and others with a role in health care delivery, quality and access. The Disparities Improvement Team will be reaching out to potential stakeholders to identify areas of expertise, relevant resources and partnership opportunities.

The Improvement Team also began the process of documenting goals and interventions to improve health disparities in colorectal cancer screening, diabetes A1c control and hypertension control. This will allow the team to compile best practices and share proven interventions throughout the state. The team will track these goals across time by monitoring stratified measure results. For more information or to participate in the Disparities Improvement Team, please contact Abbey Harburn.

 [1]United States Renal Data System (USRDS). 2020 USRDS Annual Data Report:Epidemiology of kidney disease in the United States. National Institutes ofHealth, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases,Bethesda, MD, 2020.