Most clinics in Madison provide the right amount of health care at the right time, but a few are below average.

The northern part of Wisconsin uses less health care than other parts of the state, and southeastern Wisconsin uses the most.

Those conclusions are from a website and report released in March by the Wisconsin Health Information Organization.

WHIO, a Madison-based nonprofit organization supported by health care providers, health plans, employers and state agencies, aims to improve the safety, quality and affordability of health care in Wisconsin.

The organization incorporated in 2006. The website,, is its first tool for consumers.

The website rates family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics clinics as average, above average or below average in two categories: providing recommended care at the right time and making good use of health care dollars.

“Most people don’t think health care varies, but all health care is not the same,” said Josephine Musser, CEO of WHIO. “There are good performers and not-so-good performers.”

Most clinics in Madison rate average or above average. Three are below average: UW Health’s East Towne pediatrics clinic, for recommended care; UW Health’s University Station pediatrics clinic, for health care dollars; and Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin’s Sauk Trail family medicine clinic, for recommended care.

UW Health’s below average ratings are “surprising to us because UW Health primary-care clinics operate on a common set of standards and procedures that produced high rankings at virtually all other clinics,” said spokeswoman Lisa Brunette.

At Group Health, an individual provider’s performance “was the sole reason behind the drop in score” and led Group Health to “put a corrective action plan in place,” said Jeanan Yasiri, chief planning and innovation officer.

Musser said the recommended care rating is based on 140 criteria, such as prescribing beta blockers to certain heart patients and performing various tests and screenings on people with diabetes.

Good use of health care dollars generally means fewer procedures, but with services such as immunizations it can mean more, Musser said.

The WHIO Atlas of Health Care in Wisconsin, a report modeled after the nationally known Dartmouth Atlas, shows variation in health care delivery among the state’s five regions.

The northern region uses the least health care, with the southern and western regions tied for second, the northeast fourth and the southeast fifth, the report says.

The southern region uses the least amount of emergency care and less than average hospital care, lab services, primary care and specialty care. Its use of radiology is above average.

The northern and western regions use the most specialty care. The southeast uses the most hospital care and primary care.

The report doesn’t address reasons for the differences but is meant to encourage policy makers to explore possible reasons, Musser said.

“A document like this is supposed to raise questions,” she said.

The website and report use data from April 2013 to March 2014 from commercial insurers, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans. Additional Medicare data is expected to be added later this year, and Musser said will eventually become more specific and sophisticated.

Reporter David Wahlberg explores the health care system, with an emphasis on consumers. Health Sense runs every other week. You can reach Wahlberg at or 608-252-6125.


David Wahlberg is the health and medicine reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.