Let’s Make it Happen–Blog by Deb Krause, Action Group Vice President

Let’s Make it Happen–Blog by Deb Krause, Action Group Vice President

The message at the Mental Health Community Dialogue was clear: Join us. Liz Beckius of Best Buy and Nance Lee Mosquera of The City of St. Paul carried the message on behalf of all employers in the Mental Health Learning Network: “Join us in accelerating performance improvement in integrated mental health care.”

Making progress together

Employers are prepared to lead, but meaningful and measurable progress will require multi-stakeholder collaboration. The Minnesota Health Action Group is uniquely positioned to be the convener:

We’re a coalition. 
With a 30-year history of uniting employers behind big issues, our members represent corporations and public sector employers, with nearly 2 million covered lives in Minnesota and nationally. Employers write the checks for health care, and they have a strong interest in high-value care. In coming together as a coalition, they are committed to using their collective leverage for “greater good.”

“Because of the challenges our employers and their family members face when it comes to getting the mental health care they need, we knew it was imperative that we participate in the Learning Network and now the Guiding Coalition. We will be making our collective expectations known in the marketplace in a way that is a powerful force for change.”

Ken Horstman
Senior Director of Total Compensation
University of Minnesota

We’ve got a running start. 
For the past two years, employers have invested time and energy in understanding mental health care today. They conducted a market assessment, consulting with subject matter expert advisors to understand what’s right, what’s wrong, who’s doing what, and where there are gaps. They held meetings with health plans, care systems, consultants, and other stakeholders to dig deep into the subject, including meetings with leading national experts, nonprofit organizations, academicians, solutions providers, and mental health innovators. Highlights of this work were summarized in a guide, Insights and Actions to Help Minnesota Employers Improve Mental Health in the Workplace, created initially for the participating employers and now available to the public.

We have a clear focus.
Based upon careful examination of the need and opportunity, employers have identified integrated mental health care as the place where they can make the greatest difference for employees, family members, and patients across Minnesota. Depression, anxiety and stress are common in the workplace. Employees with physical health conditions — such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — frequently have co-occurring mental health conditions. It is imperative that each patient is treated as a “whole person,” and it is unacceptable that the statewide rate of depression remission at six months in Minnesota is only 8%.

“The direct costs of untreated or undertreated mental illnesses to employers are significant, yet they represent a mere sliver compared to the direct and indirect financial hardship from untreated conditions. Mental illness and substance use disorders cost employers tens of billions of dollars each year in indirect costs alone: Absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, and costs to train replaced workers. Working together, employers and other stakeholders can take concrete steps today to fashion more mentally healthy workplaces.”

Sue Abderholden
Executive Director
NAMI Minnesota

We’ve done this before.
Minnesota Bridges to Excellence was a purchaser-led, pay-for-performance program that was administered by The Action Group, from 2005-2017. Under the stewardship of a multi-stakeholder Guiding Coalition, the program advanced care delivery and outcomes by rewarding clinics for providing exceptional care to patients with diabetes and heart disease. In addition, The Action Group convened a multi-stakeholder Specialty Drug Guiding Coalition from 2016-2018 which brought an unprecedented level of collaboration to advance “Getting the 5 Rights, Right” and culminated in a Specialty Drug Employer Playbook. Our track record of building trust, promoting collaboration, igniting action, and enabling success provides a strong foundation for the future.

We’ve got a plan.
The DIAMOND program and COMPASS point the way. Now, the Mental Health Guiding Coalition will leverage the unique assets of Minnesota, create a “common table” for the exchange of perspectives and ideas, identify and prioritize opportunities for collaborative action, agree upon meaningful measures, and monitor progress toward these goals.

We have momentum. 
Our Mental Health Community Dialogue gathered a capacity crowd that included stakeholders from across the health care landscape. Participants listened carefully as Dr. Tim Hernandez of Entira Family Clinics and his patient, Katie, painted a compelling picture of patient-centered, truly integrated mental health care, and experts shared relevant experiences and insights. Following the event, 100% of respondents who completed the post-event feedback survey agreed that “I am committed to taking action, within my own sphere of influence, to improve mental health care.” Equally important, 98% of respondents agreed that, “I am optimistic that, TOGETHER, under the leadership of a Guiding Coalition of Minnesota purchasers and other stakeholders, we will be able to accelerate performance improvement in integrated mental health care.”

Mental health is a big issue, and the stakes are high. Now is the time to come together to focus on solutions, actions, accountability and results. The Action Group is uniquely positioned to be the convener, and we firmly believe that we are BETTER TOGETHER.

Please join us.

Deb Krause is Vice President of the Minnesota Health Action Group.



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