HealthPartners receives grant to improve state of health care

by Mike Zacharias

HealthPartners Medical Group and Clinics, one of the largest medical groups in Minnesota, will receive $50,000 to develop a plan for improving the quality of health care in America.

The group is one of 12 health care organizations to receive the grant. More than 200 organizations applied to participate in the $20.9 million initiative sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

“We’re proud but we are also sort of humbled by (being chosen),” said Dr. John Wheeler, the associate medical director for primary care at HealthPartners. “We think it’s a great opportunity. It excites and energizes our organization and I think it’s a stimulus to help us do the kind of work that we are all about.”

The 12 participating health care organizations will receive a $50,000 grant to develop their plans. Up to six of the groups will then be selected to receive between $1.5 million and $3.5 million to help implement the plans.

“The recognition is that the health care chassis is broken,” said Wheeler, a graduate of the University’s medical school.

HealthPartners will focus on improving the entire model of health care delivery, including the flow of patient care and relationships between personnel and patients, Wheeler said.

“It won’t help us to just try harder or run faster. We need to do some fundamental changes,” he said, adding that patients should be able to say they got all the care they required and wanted when they needed it.

Wheeler said what HealthPartners wants to improve is the availability of information.

“There will be some major changes of information support and infrastructure so that the right
information will be available to patients and providers,” Wheeler said. “That will require a significant investment in information technology.”

The health care improvement initiative was inspired by an Institute of Medicine survey released earlier this year that said the health care delivery system is in need of fundamental change.

“Health care today harms too frequently and routinely fails to deliver its potential benefits,” the report stated.

While Wheeler said the current health care system is not flawless, he does see how it can be improved with the help of the 12 health care groups in the initiative.

“The problems that we do have are basically due to the systems and not the people within them,” Wheeler said. “We need some major overhauls. We need transformation organizations because in its current form and habits and in this environment we’re actually incapable of providing the public with the kind of care it expects and deserves.”


Mike Zacharias welcomes comments at [email protected]