Bartels works toward better healthcare for Wisconsin citizens

Julie BartelsWithout realizing it, Wisconsin residents benefit from the effective and efficient work of Julie (Rose) Bartels, a 1982 UW-Green Bay business administration graduate, who dedicates herself to improving their healthcare.

Bartels is CEO of the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO) — a non-profit business dedicated to improving value in healthcare for Wisconsin and promoting best practices among doctors and healthcare agencies.

WHIO aggregates healthcare claims data involving the citizens of Wisconsin and uses that data to create healthcare provider performance reports and population health studies. This information is used by doctors and hospitals, insurers, employers and the state of Wisconsin to evaluate the health and healthcare of Wisconsin residents. It also shines the light on best practices — those healthcare providers who deliver best quality at best price.

It’s multi-tasking, fast-moving work for Bartels, who is responsible for all aspects of the business planning and operations as well as facilitation of WHIO’s Board of Directors.

“WHIO’s workforce is virtual,” said Bartels. “Member organizations dedicate staff to various projects and initiatives. These might include attorneys, data analysts, quality managers or clinicians. On some days there are as many as 50 people working with WHIO; on others it’s just me.”

Bartels’ work includes strategic planning, business plan development and execution including business development, operational management, vendor management and member/subscriber support.

Extensive experience in the insurance field since her college graduation in 1982 has helped Bartels to become uniquely suited to her career. Her resume, from 1983 to 2005, included work with Aid Association for Lutherans, Employers Health Insurance and American Medical Security. She was appointed chief executive office of WHIO in October 2006.

With healthcare reform in high gear, Bartels anticipates a significant amount of legislative activity immediately, and in the years ahead.

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 allocated a huge amount of dollars toward investments in technology in healthcare,” she explained.

“That means that more doctors and hospitals will convert to electronic health records and other automated patient management and monitoring systems. Electronic data is to be exchanged among providers so that patient records can be accessed anywhere in the state. Where it was once impossible to share information between doctors or across medical systems without making paper copies and faxing we will now be able to provide important medical background information in real time.”

Bartels describes the implementation of new technology as a sometimes painful and expensive exercise, but predicts that the end result will be better care for Wisconsin citizens.

“That electronic data will eventually flow into the WHIO data repository and be reflected in our provider performance report cards and population health reports. Information drives sound decisions and supports innovation and quality improvement — all good things,” she said.

Bartels originally considered a social work degree, but along the way realized that she had the acumen for, and liked, business studies. UW-Green Bay was a great fit for the married mother of two who was working part time while balancing a full-time credit load.

“Without access to a local, high quality and affordable four-year campus, I would not have been able to pursue my degree for many years,” she said. “There is a loyalty among local businesses to hiring UW graduates — especially UWGB graduates. I worked hard to get my degree in four years and was both lucky and rewarded by local organizations, which recognized my personal drive to succeed and the quality of education I received from UWGB and hired me. I never had to leave the area to get a great job.”