More than 250 clinics across the state are splitting nearly $1 million in payments that reward health care providers for high quality in treating three costly health conditions.

The "Minnesota Bridges to Excellence" program scores clinics according to their outcomes for patients with diabetes, vascular disease and depression.

Those conditions impact hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, and are primary drivers health care costs, according to the Minnesota Health Action Group, a coalition of large employers that runs the program.

The number of clinics getting awards and the total funds being split are down this year, due primarily to changes in the method for evaluating clinics, said Jim Chase of MN Community Measurement, a nonprofit that helped develop the scoring system used in Minnesota Bridges to Excellence.

Last year, 437 clinics split a total of $1.5 million, compared with 274 clinics splitting $997,772 this year.

"The good news is: We're continuing to see incremental improvements in the results for patients," Chase said. He added: "What happened this year is, medical groups didn’t improve as much as we predicted because of the some of the changes that we made to the measures – not because of anything the groups did or didn’t do.”

Minnesota Health Action Group's incentive payments were first awarded in 2006.

Employers that sponsor the pay-for-performance program include: Best Buy; Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative; State of Minnesota-State Employee Group Insurance Plan; the Minnesota Department of Human Services; the University of Minnesota; U.S. Bank; and Wells Fargo.

Collectively, these employers provide health care coverage to more than one million people in Minnesota, according to the group, which is based in Bloomington.

“Through Minnesota Bridges to Excellence, health care purchasers ... have continued to send a clear message that high-value health care and outcomes are a priority,"said Carolyn Pare, president and chief executive of the Minnesota Health Action Group, in a statement.

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