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Major funding award will support care coordination research in Minnesota

HealthPartners Institute receives $4M from Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to compare common ways of coordinating primary care

November 25, 2019

Nov. 25, 2019 – BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – There are about 400 clinics in Minnesota known as certified health care homes that provide care coordination for patients with complex care needs. While evidence shows that this care coordination is effective, little is known about which specific ways of providing coordination work best. To learn about these different ways of coordinating care, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) just awarded a $4 million contract to HealthPartners Institute.

HealthPartners researchers will work with other collaborators over three years to compare different approaches to care coordination. These approaches broadly fit into two categories: models that focus mainly on coordinating medical and nursing services and those that include a social worker who gives extra attention to addressing social needs.

“There is keen interest in the potential of care coordination to improve the quality of care, patient experience, and the use of resources for high‐cost and high‐need patients,” said Leif Solberg, MD, senior investigator at HealthPartners Institute. “We’re trying to figure out how to unlock that potential so clinics everywhere can use the best approach.”

Coordinating Care Coordination

Most patients who use care coordination have multiple chronic health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular, and mental health conditions, which impact long-term well-being and increase care costs.

The Minnesota State Legislature created a certification program through the Minnesota Department of Health in 2008 designed to help primary care clinics improve their care. The certification process requires that clinics meet a variety of standards, including the delivery of care coordination services. But because there isn’t data to show a best model for care coordination, many of the clinics – even within the same health system – have different ways of coordinating care.

“There has been broad adoption when it comes to coordinating care, but there is not a best practice,” said Steven Dehmer, PhD, health care economist and research investigator at HealthPartners Institute. “Our study should help hone the way these high-cost and high-need patients are cared for in Minnesota and beyond.”

The research team, led by HealthPartners Institute, includes the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota Community Measurement, Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, and UCare. The researchers will seek to partner with most of the primary care clinics and medical groups in the state to investigate how outcomes are affected by the care coordination models, as well as the care coordination factors that are responsible for better health. They will also compare how each model of care coordination influences healthcare utilization that is especially burdensome to patients, such as hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. For more information about PCORI’s funding, visit This award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

About HealthPartners Institute

HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. HealthPartners Institute supports this mission through research, education and practice. The Institute annually conducts 400+ research studies, provides continuing medical education to 24,000 health professionals and trains 575 medical residents and fellows and 1,200 medical and advanced practice students. The Institute also supports clinical quality improvement and patient education programs. Its integration with HealthPartners’ hospitals, clinics and health plan strengthens the Institute’s ability to discover and develop evidence-based solutions and translate them into practice. Based in Minneapolis, the Institute’s work impacts care, health and well-being across the region and nation as well as internationally. For more information, visit

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