Minnesota Plans, Providers Using Same Guidelines

Minnesota’s five largest health plans and three major provider systems, including the Mayo Clinic, have agreed to use a standard set of evidence-based treatment guidelines developed by the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, a Bloomington-based quality-improvement consortium.

The ICSI, founded by Mayo and other large regional provider organizations, developed a system in which physicians evaluate the evidence for existing practice guidelines and technology assessments. The physicians then draw their own conclusions to develop the ICSI’s guidelines. In becoming sponsors of the institute, the five health plans — HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne, UCare Minnesota, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota — agreed to adopt ICSI’s care protocols. Its 50 guidelines cover such common areas as prevention, heart disease, respiratory care, musculoskeletal disorders, behavioral health, and Ob/Gyn, among others.

Minnesota can be viewed as the first state where most major players are basing care on systematic use of best practices — the kind of collaborative effort called for in the Institute of Medicine’s March report, “Crossing the Quality Chasm.” The ICSI plans to solicit medical groups and hospitals that contract with its health plans for membership — and thus broaden the use of its guidelines.

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