Inquiring Minds Might Want to Know – Blog by Deb Krause, Action Group Vice President
“While it’s no surprise that we have a long way to go before we achieve parity in mental health care, the Minnesota version of the eValue8 Deep Dive is an important step to get every stakeholder on a shared path that will generate accelerated action toward long overdue change.”
Nance Lee Mosquera, Benefits Manager, City of Saint Paul
The Action Group just published the results of the “eValue8™ Mental Health Deep Dive for Minnesota Health Plans.” You can read the news release, review the executive summary, and view the October 2, 2019, results webinar presentation to learn more. It’s important to know that this report has been in the works a long time, and was thoughtfully and collaboratively produced, with a strategic intent. This blog shares a “behind the scenes perspective” on the report that I thought inquiring minds might want to know.
First, The Action Group (and our member employers) are very GRATEFUL to the three participating health plans — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, and Medica. They stepped up, completed the request for information to the best of their ability, and provided a level of transparency on mental health care in Minnesota that we have never had. To be fair, they wanted to talk through questions and concerns, and they pushed back on the timing. We did everything we could to make it easy for them to participate. The Action Group absorbed the cost of the researcher, adjusted the timeline to accommodate their request, promised that results would be “blinded” (Plan A, B and C — not identified by name), and assured them that we would not conduct this analysis again for at least two years (to respect their time and give them an opportunity to implement changes).
Second, the request for information included questions that are highly ASPIRATIONAL. The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions and Michael Thompson, president & CEO, deserve significant credit for both the vision and execution of the Deep Dive. The national report released in 2018 paved the way for the Minnesota report published in 2019. To develop the questions used in the Deep Dive, the National Alliance convened a panel with industry experts and funders, leading coalitions across the country, and passionate employers*. The questions are insightful and comprehensive, yet focused and relevant. The aspirational questions convey forward-thinking purchaser expectations for high-value mental health care. When I discussed this recently with a consultant from a major consulting firm, I learned that the firm conducts RFPs asking significantly more questions that are primarily tactical. The consultant shared, “We wouldn’t have even known to ask these questions.” Because of the aspirational nature of the questions, we didn’t expect to find any “A students” among the health plans. Indeed, that proved to be true.
Finally, the results of the analysis are ACTIONABLE. Each of the participating health plans received a Summary and Recommendations report, identifying gaps and opportunities for improvement. I personally participated in meetings with each of the plans, and all of them received the recommendations with a level of interest that is both impressive and encouraging. The results are also actionable by others:
- Employers can use the questions to guide enhancements in plan design and inquiries regarding their health plan’s services and results (ongoing and as part of future RFPs).
- Care systems (hospitals and providers) can use the questions to guide their product development and service enhancements to address purchaser expectations.
- Other stakeholders and groups (including the multi-stakeholder Mental Health Guiding Coalition convened by The Action Group) can use the results to inform marketwide collaborations to drive improved mental health care and outcomes.
This is ambitious and difficult work, and it won’t happen overnight. It also won’t happen unless we get started. The Deep Dive gives us a baseline on where we stand and a clear picture of the changes needed.
On a personal level, I found my role in executing the Deep Dive to be a wonderful and challenging learning experience, as well as a unique opportunity to play a meaningful role in driving change and transformation. This is powerful information, and I am hopeful that it will be used to its full potential.
If you have other questions on the “behind the scenes” perspective, please feel free to reach out to me.
“We heard from many of the plans that we were the first to be asking these types of questions and taking this level of a deeper dive into mental health care and services. Clearly, these are questions that must be asked.”
President and CEO, National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions
*Best Buy, McMurry Cos, OPM, Prudential, FedEx
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Deb Krause is Vice President of the Minnesota Health Action Group.