The Minnesota Hospital Association’s (MHA) commitment to improving quality and safety earned it the AHA’s 2015 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership. Named after AHA President Emeritus Dick Davidson, the annual award is given to state, regional or metropolitan hospital associations that demonstrate leadership and innovation in promoting better patient care, and make a significant, measurable contribution to improving quality within its geographic area. AHA News recently spoke to MHA President and CEO Lawrence J. Massa about his association’s quality improvement efforts.


AHA News: What prompted the association to start your critical push to quality?

MassaMassa: Following the Institute of Medicine’s “To Err is Human” report, members of the Minnesota Hospital Association committed to being on the leading edge of hospital quality and patient safety. Over the past 15 years, we have developed a unique statewide quality alliance known as the Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety. We were the first state in the nation to publicly report adverse health events and the first state hospital association to hire a full-time, dedicated staff member focused on patient safety. Following creation of our adverse health event reporting system, we launched an innovative "call to action" framework that helps hospitals improve through easy-to-use road maps that highlight best practices to improve patient safety.

Based on this firm foundation, in 2010 we launched the largest coordinated health care quality improvement initiative ever undertaken in the state, the Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively (RARE) Campaign. The RARE campaign drew in more than 100 community partners. Between July 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2013, the RARE campaign prevented 7,975 avoidable hospital readmissions and saved an estimated $70 million in health care costs. As part of the federal Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Network, Minnesota hospitals and health systems have prevented more than 15,000 patients from harm and saved more than $112 million as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions since 2010.


AHA News: What has been key to helping you achieve your quality outcomes?

Massa: Continual leadership and support from our board of directors has been crucial in maintaining quality and patient safety as top priorities for MHA. Our board strongly reinforces our efforts to champion patient safety work throughout the state.

In addition, we have a robust committee structure of members who engage a wide range of hospital staff in quality and patient safety leadership. We have 12 quality and patient safety committees that garner participation. The committees provide a venue for both wide and deep examination of the critical quality and patient safety issues facing Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems.


AHA News: Describe your hospitals’ role in the quality effort. Do they seek opportunities to collaborate?

Massa: Minnesota’s hospitals are working to strengthen the health of Minnesotans and our communities. They are crucial to the quality effort and are eager to collaborate and participate in programs that help them enhance quality and patient safety. MHA carefully considers the varying circumstances and needs of hospitals throughout the state and tailors initiatives to allow hospitals to participate in the way that best meets their needs.

MHA was selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to participate in both the first and second round of Hospital Engagement Networks (HEN) to continue working to improve patient care in the hospital setting. It’s part of the Partnership for Patients initiative. Of our 143 hospitals, 115 are participating in our HEN. MHA also received a contract for the 15-month, rigorous Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics (LEAPT) program. The funding allowed Minnesota hospitals to further expand patient safety and quality efforts by creating tested strategies to measure and improve outcomes for patients. Some 83 hospitals participated in LEAPT.

Today, Minnesota’s hospitals have significantly reduced patient harm and readmissions, saved millions in excess costs, reached unprecedented levels of statewide collaboration and partnership, and achieved successes on leading-edge quality topics. MHA’s initiatives have touched nearly every patient in the state – at least 97% of all hospital admissions statewide have been impacted by one of these programs.


AHA News: What advice do you have for other associations seeking to replicate your success?

Massa: We have found that board and CEO leadership, transparency of results, sharing best practices, collaboration among partners and participants, and tailoring solutions to the needs of individual hospitals are instrumental to a successful quality improvement effort.

We also recognize the importance of celebrating success and pausing to acknowledge the work that is making a difference for patients. MHA has given 123 hospitals awards indicating 90% compliance or greater on one of the MHA road maps. In addition, we have honored 22 hospitals with Partnership for Patients Excellence Awards, which recognize hospitals that reach benchmarks on at least six hospital-acquired conditions and have in place at least three patient and family engagement criteria.

The AHA invites hospital associations to apply through Jan. 22 for the 2016 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership. The 2016 award will be presented at the Health Forum and AHA Leadership Summit, July 17-19 in San Diego. Click here or contact Debbie Pierce at (312) 422-2635 for more information. And watch a video of 2015 award winner MHA.