November 2021

President’s Column

Gabrielle Rude, PhD
WCHQ President and CEO

As Covid- cases creep up again in Wisconsin and our hospitals fill, it is notable that our Wisconsin health systems are managing to care for these patients while continuing to focus on providing high quality care for all patients. At WCHQ, we see proof of this through the continuing unprecedented participation in our improvement offerings- see articles in this newsletter for information on new opportunities such as the Disparities Improvement Team and an upcoming WCHQ Obesity Summit in 2022.

Along with our members, WCHQ has evolved dramatically since our start nearly two decades ago.  At its inception, the WCHQ staff was comprised of only a few part-time individuals.Today, WCHQ remains a relatively small and nimble organization yet we are markedly more complex with robust data infrastructure and improvement programs supported by more than 10 full-time staff across the state. With increased complexity comes the obligation to optimize our internal processes. As such, I am pleased to announce the promotion of Matt Gigot to the position of Chief Operating Officer at WCHQ. Matt has been with WCHQ for more than 10 years and most recently served as WCHQ’s Director of Measurement and Analytics. In his new role, Matt will focus on optimizing operations to reflect the current complexities in our environment and to ensure efficient achievement of WCHQ’s strategic plan.

The important work that Wisconsin health systems and their staff do is highlighted in times of difficulty, such as through this pandemic and more recently with the tragedy in Waukesha. The thoughts of the entire WCHQ staff are with that community and the hero health providers caring for the injured both now and as the Waukesha community recovers.

Board Approvals Set Stage for WCHQ to Pursue Aggressive Agenda in 2022

The WCHQ Board of Directors signaled its approval for the 2022 WCHQ budget, setting in motion the funding to support work not only to improve health care in Wisconsin, but also to increase the value of the care delivered to patients, employers and payers. It also approved the 2022 Statewide Improvement Priorities.

“The team appreciates having the support of our Board and the thoughtful input from WCHQ’s members as we set our course in 2022,” said WCHQ President and CEO Gabrielle Rude, PhD. “Our work is informed by data, member-driven and clearly focused on value and improvement. It is reaffirming to me to have the Board not only help set, but to support, the direction WCHQ is taking to help them improve the health of the people living in our communities.”

In addition to approving the 2022 budget at its November 9 virtual meeting, the Board heard a report from the Value Acceleration Advisory Group, chaired by Imran Andrabi, MD, President and CEO of ThedaCare. The Advisory Group has been considering measures that could be used to assess progress toward increasing the value of care for patients who are diabetic.

Speaking to the Board, COO Matt Gigot said progress on WCHQ’s Value Acceleration initiative was interrupted due to pandemic. The Board asked staff to resume the work later in 2021 and into 2022. Gigot said staff is currently developing a Value Acceleration Report that will include aggregated results in the following areas:

a.    Behavioral Health – Screening for clinical depression, PHQ-9 utilization, depression remission/response, utilization of the Collaborative Care Model

b.    Tobacco Cessation – Tobacco utilization, tobacco users receiving cessation device, use of medication assisted treatment

c.     Pharmacy in Primary Care – Frequency of adverse drug events, utilization of Medication Therapy Management

d.    Cross-cutting Measures - WCHQ diabetes measure suite. Admission, re-admission, and ED visit rates (Data Source: WHA Information Center)

Gigot noted that the measures listed above would focus on the patient population that is diabetic. The Value Acceleration Group will continue to refine the measures and will report back to the Board.

In other actions, the Board reviewed the current agreement that WCHQ has with the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO). The original plan was to combine WCHQ and WHIO data within a joint venture called 360 ValuCounts; however, the Board determined WCHQ should obtain data directly from its members through the WHIO subscription held by WCHQ, instead of 360 ValuCounts.

“The WHIO data is important to WCHQ’s work and the most viable option is to obtain the data directly through the subscription.” Dr. Rude said.

WCHQ Announces 2022 Statewide Improvement Priorities

WCHQ released it 2022 Statewide colorectal cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, chronic disease management, and immunizations. These WCHQ Board-approved topics will be the focus of improvement activities at WCHQ next year. The priorities, which are set annually, represent the clinical improvement topics of highest importance to WCHQ members.

The WCHQ staff will support member improvement activities and encourage participation on a multidisciplinary team committed to working together on a common topic. The Board will receive a progress report on the statewide priorities on a regular basis. The priorities were selected from a list of improvement projects submitted by members of the Improvement Advisory Committee. The IAC is a member-led Board subcommittee chaired by Jesley Ruff, DDS, MPH, ForwardDental.

The IAC will continue to support improvement work related to behavioral health, health disparities and value. These broad strategies for improvement cross many clinical priorities. The IAC will receive reports on and continue to discuss all improvement areas.

Members are welcome to participate on the Improvement Advisory Committee, contact Cara Winsand for more information.

In the News: Wisconsin Health News Features WCHQ’s Gabrielle Rude, PhD

The Wisconsin Health News November 19 issue featured an interview with WCHQ President and CEO Gabrielle Rude. This subscriber-only content is available on the homepage of Wisconsin Health News.

WCHQ Members Encouraged to Participate on Disparities Improvement Team

The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the existing health inequities present not only in Wisconsin, but around the globe. As a result, health disparities are at the forefront of our minds when tackling improvement in health care quality. WCHQ has the opportunity to use data and quality improvement strategies to address these disparities through the formation of the WCHQ Disparities Improvement Team.

The Disparities Improvement Team will hold its first meeting December 13 from 2 PM to 3 PM. This Improvement Team brings health system members and stakeholders together throughout Wisconsin to address and decrease the disparities gaps in both health care access and health outcomes. The Disparities Improvement Team will discuss best practices to address disparities related to race and ethnicity, insurance status and geography.

At the inaugural meeting, the Disparities Improvement Team will review the priority measures selected by health system leaders at WCHQ’s Executive Summit on Health Disparities. This group will be charged with identifying strategies, workflows and best practices to decrease the disparities gaps on these measures. If you are interested in participating on the WCHQ Disparities Improvement team, contact Abbey Harburn.

November Assembly Focused on Pandemic’s Impact on Children and Adolescents Mental Health

The pandemic’s impact on the mental health of children and adolescents was the focus of a November 16 virtual Assembly hosted by WCHQ. The topics presented all built on the theme of gaining a better understanding of how health care providers can identify behavioral health issues and then offer effective treatment to younger patients.

This topic is so important in light of the pandemic and recent tragic events in our state, that all speakers agreed to share their presentations. WCHQ wants to ensure that all clinicians are aware of the Wisconsin Child Psychiatry Consultation Program.

“This Assembly was among our best this year in terms of helping our clinicians connect with resources they need to help our kids,” according to WCHQ President and CEO Gabrielle Rude. “Every speaker was knowledgeable and increased our members’ understanding of how deeply the pandemic is affecting our children, but they also shared ‘what works.’ I encourage you to go through their presentations and to reach out to any of them for more information.”

Voice of Wisconsin Students: Learning, Coping and Building Resilience During Covid-19
Sharon Belton, PhD
Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service

Support for Primary Care: Wisconsin Child Psychiatry Consultation Program
Matthew Jandrisevits, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin
Kristen Krause, Program Coordinator, WI CPCP

A Rapid Transition to Telebehavioral Health Services at Children’s Wisconsin
Jenny Walczak, PsyD
Children’s Wisconsin
Kristin Kroll, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin

Providers and Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH) Program
Amy Olejiniczak, MS, MPH,
PATCH Founder & Director

A very special thanks to our presenters and the organizations they represent for sharing their time, expertise and resources with WCHQ members.

If you would like to receive a link to this webinar recording, contact Mary Kay Fahey

Improvement Teams


Mark Your Calendar: WCHQ Plans Obesity Summit in Fall, 2022

The Obesity Advisory Group announced their plan to hold an Obesity Summit October 13, 2022, sponsored by Novo Nordisk.  National and local speakers will present on the importance of a data-driven approach to obesity, how to talk to patients about obesity, and emerging research.  WCHQ members will begin reporting on two obesity measures in Spring, 2022. It is expected that the data will be presented at the Summit to further inform the work in this area.

The measures are:  

• Obesity Prediabetes and Diabetes HbA1c Control

• Obesity Prevalence within the Population

A work group comprised of payers and providers continues to meet to develop plans for capturing claims and clinical data with the goal of evaluating the outcomes of obesity interventions.  If you are interested in joining these conversations, contact Jen Koberstein.

Behavioral Health

WCHQ Health Systems Contribute to Wisconsin State SuicidePrevention Plan

WCHQ Behavioral Health Improvement Team met with the state lead at Mental Health America to understand how Wisconsin health systems can provide input into the state suicide prevention plan.  Leah Rolando, suicide prevention program coordinator, met with the team and shared the current state plan and information about the work of Prevent Suicide Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s suicide rate rose 40 percent between 2000 and 2017 and one in six Wisconsin high school students reported experiencing suicidal ideation.  

The goals of the state suicide plan include:

• Enhance and increase protective factors;

• Increase access to care for at-risk populations;

• Implement best practices for prevention in health care systems; and,

• Improve surveillance of suicide and evaluation of prevention programs.

WCHQ members suggested a survey be developed and sent to all health systems to understand what they are currently doing to implement best practices within their organizations.  The health systems will continue to coordinate with Mental Health America to develop next steps to determine ways they can continue to be involved.  

For information about the WCHQ Behavioral Health Improvement Team, contact Jen Koberstein.

Chronic Disease

Members Encouraged to Help Update Toolkits

Over the past three years, the WCHQ Diabetes & Hypertension Toolkits have been downloaded over 1,400 times. It’s time for a refresh to create an updated toolkit that combines these two topics into one Chronic Disease toolkit.

To date, Bellin, Gundersen, Marshfield Clinic, Prevea, Primary Care Associates, ProHealth, ThedaCare and several stakeholder organizations have expressed interest in assisting with toolkit updates. Meeting participants were encouraged to provide feedback through an individual Padlet Board login that enables members to view and interact with posted comments.

A few overarching topics that are being considered for inclusion in the Toolkit:

• Pre-diabetes, diabetes, hypertension;

• Member highlights;

• Importance of control, strategies and resources; and,

• Potential for including disparities, telehealth, and a literature review.

Toolkits can be a valuable resource for quickly disseminating key resources and best practices. Consider contributing to the toolkit and providing feedback. Contact Sheryl Pierce for more information.

Current Toolkits:

Diabetes Toolkit -

Hypertension Toolkit -

Oral Health

Oral Health Collaborative Committed to Medical and Dental Integration

WCHQ Oral Health members met in November and reaffirmed their commitment to increasing the integration between medical and dental treatment.  Diabetes places the oral cavity at additional risk for infection which increases the need for comprehensive oral health care.  The group discussed the new WCHQ oral health measure that looks at the percentage of patients with diabetes who received a comprehensive or periodic oral evaluation or a comprehensive periodontal evaluation during the measurement period.  

The group will continue to work on measures related to diabetes and it plans to draft a de novo measure on diabetes and oral health later this year.  

If you are interested in more information on oral health, contact Jen Koberstein.