Minneapolis-based HealthPartners is rolling out the next phase of its Partners for Better Health Program, an outcomes-based initiative to promote quality improvement. New measures include outcomes standards for reduction of heart attacks, depression, and diabetes-related complications in its 660,000 members.

HealthPartners says it will work with its providers and members to achieve, by 2005, 50-percent increases in the number of patients with cardiovascular disease whose risk factors are controlled, and in the number of people at risk for depression who are identified and receive appropriate treatment.

In addition, the organization wants to control modifiable health risks in patients with diabetes. Health Partners is aiming for a 25-percent reduction in heart attacks among diabetics, and a 30-percent drop in such complications as amputations, blindness, and end-stage renal disease.

It's not the first time HealthPartners has established such ambitious goals. In 1994, when it established Partners for Better Health, it set out to reduce heart events among members by 25 percent within four years.

Ultimately, it achieved about half that rate, which it considered a success. The program became the model for a national outcomes-based quality measurement effort, Benchmarks in Quality and Safety, launched last year by the Alliance of Community Health Plans, a consortium of 23 not-for-profit HMOs and insurers.

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