MHQP to Produce State’s First-ever Primary-care Dashboard for CHIA

BRIGHTON — Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) has been selected by the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) to produce Massachusetts’ first-ever dashboard of metrics to monitor the health of primary care in the state.

Leaders in both the healthcare and policymaking arenas have become increasingly concerned about the health and sustainability of primary care in Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker highlighted the importance of primary care when, before the pandemic, he proposed a 30% increase of investment in primary care and behavioral health in the state. Then, when the pandemic struck, practices throughout the state found themselves struggling to survive amid significant uncertainty.

Considered by many to be the backbone of the healthcare system, access to primary care has been shown to be associated with positive health outcomes for patients.

“Primary care is a common good,” MHQP CEO Barbra Rabson wrote in a July 2021 essay. “A strong primary-care system makes us all better and makes the healthcare system better for all. In the wake of the pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on primary-care practices, we will need a reliable way to monitor how primary care is doing.”

As an organization that has been measuring primary-care performance and patient experiences with primary care for over a decade, MHQP is well-positioned to conduct this work. Natalya Martins, MHQP’s director of Strategic Initiatives, and Erin Bonney, CHIA’s manager of Payer-Provider Performance, are leading the effort, with the help of an expert advisory group MHQP has assembled to support the project.

MHQP began exploring metrics to measure and monitor primary care in 2021. “We started with more than 100 potential measures covering a wide landscape,” Martins said. “We’ve now been able to whittle the list down to 33 measures in four categories which we believe will allow us to better understand the health of primary care in the state.”

The four categories in the primary-care dashboard are finance, performance, capacity, and equity. CHIA had already launched an effort to track primary-care expenditures in response to legislation filed by Baker to increase primary-care spending. MHQP is bringing to the table the expertise to measure the other three areas: performance, capacity, and equity.

“We are thrilled to partner with MHQP on this critically important initiative,” said Ray Campbell, executive director of CHIA. “The health of primary care is critically important to our state’s healthcare system. MHQP’s unique perspective, skills, and experience are helping to turn this vision of a dashboard measurement system into a reality.”

MHQP and CHIA plan to launch the first primary-care dashboard in November on a state-sponsored website. The initial version will include baseline data in all the metrics, and measurement methodologies will be improved over time.