Together Toward Tomorrow! Action Group 2017; 2018–Executive Summary by Carolyn Pare, Action Group President and CEO

Together Toward Tomorrow! Action Group 2017; 2018–Executive Summary by Carolyn Pare, Action Group President and CEO

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford


Following one of the busiest years in recent memory, Action Group members took a breather during the final meeting of the year to review 2017 accomplishments; preview 2018 plans; and discuss the wrap-up of the 2017 Mental Health Learning Network. The meeting presentation may be found here.

In 2017, members came together in impressive fashion, working together to make health care better for all Minnesotans. I’m looking forward to continuing our work in the New Year, uniting employers around common issues, amplifying the voice of those who write the checks for health care, and improving patient experiences and outcomes.

Welcoming new members

We were pleased to add Amgen, APi Group, Inc., Great River Energy, Kaleidoscope, Novo Nordisk, Otter Tail Corporation, RedBrick Health, Thrivent Financial, and University of Minnesota Physicians to our member roster. With each new member, our voice is increased, and the perspectives, ideas and energy each member brings make us stronger! The new member directory is available in The Action Group’s online Member Center.

To view a roster of our members, please click here.

Not yet a member, or a member wondering how to become more involved with The Action Group? Visit “Getting Involved,” and “Join Now” on our homepage. Or contact a staff or Board member!

Working together to support high-quality health care

Through a variety of initiatives, members advanced work that supports high-quality health care:

Minnesota Bridges to Excellence (MNBTE)
MNBTE was respectfully retired in 2017, following 12 successful years and a celebration of the award recipients who have made significant contributions to improving care and reducing costs for countless patients with diabetes, vascular disease, and depression. MNBTE resulted in payments of more than $6.5 million to high-performing clinics and care systems that delivered optimal care to patients. Governor Dayton even declared the day of the MNBTE recognition reception to be “Minnesota Excellence in Health Care Day.”

To view the Proclamation, and to read a special edition of Express commemorating MNBTE, please click here.

Mental Health Care Delivery Learning Network
Amid a challenging landscape where we have not yet realized true parity in mental health care, and stigma and prejudice remain rampant, 11 leading Minnesota employers united in the 2017 Mental Health Learning Network to explore and tackle the complexities. I am proud of the resulting employer guide: Working Well in Minnesota: Insights and Actions to Help Employers Advance Mental Health in the Workplace.

Members may access the guide by logging into the Member Center from the homepage.

Specialty Drug Guiding Coalition
Over 40 Specialty Drug Guiding Coalition members from more than 20 organizations have been working together since February, elevating the discussion to find solutions to the specialty drug challenges affecting employers and their workforces. As one coalition member said, “We’re sharing our ideas and expertise — essentially our secret sauce — which is only possible because of a real feeling of camaraderie and trust, and a commitment to making things better.”

The “Five Rights” framework developed by members of the original Specialty Pharmacy Learning and Action Network has even been adopted by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.

To read a special edition of Express about our progress and plans for the future, please click here.

Sharing perspectives and learning from one another

The following highlights how members have come together to network and learn:

Minnesota All Payer Claims Database (MN APCD)
A number of Action Group members generously volunteered to assist the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in defining a value proposition for employer use of the MN APCD. The resulting report will help employers engage in value-based purchasing as they seek higher quality, more affordable health care that results in better health for employees and covered family members.

The MDH press release can be found here.

Please participate in this year’s Survey, starting February 5!

Annual Employer Benefits Survey
Our proprietary, confidential, free Survey captures a vital snapshot of trends in the Minnesota employee benefits marketplace. It also provides a tool for Action Group members and other Survey participants to benchmark their plans. Affordability remains the top priority when it comes to offering health benefits, especially given that the Survey revealed that the average total cost trend in Minnesota increased to 5.7 percent, which is well above the national average of 2.4 percent.

A summary of the Survey results can be found here.


Member Engagement Survey

In the business world, feedback is an essential component of reinforcing excellence and pursuing continuous improvement. And it’s even more important in a member-led coalition like The Action Group, where our members are the equivalent of a shareholder or consumer. We conducted a comprehensive employer survey in 2017 to understand why our members engage with us, how they engage, and what they find most valuable. Results have helped guide the work of our Board, and led to exciting innovations and meeting content for 2018.

To view Board member Deidre Serum’s blog about the Survey, please click here.

Meetings and Events
Action Group meetings and events are always a highlight of the year for me. In 2017, we hosted seven “main events” to serve members and non-members. From our highly popular Annual Employer Leadership Summit and MNBTE recognition reception, to high-interest meetings on topics such as empowering employees to become health care consumers, care coordination, MN APCD, and best practices for employee health and well-being, it was an exciting year of learning and networking. Discoveries that occur help ensure that the health care purchasers’ voice will be loud and clear in the marketplace.

From our highly popular Annual Employer Leadership Summit and MNBTE recognition reception, to high-interest meetings on topics such as empowering employees to become health care consumers, care coordination, MN APCD, and best practices for employee health and well-being, it was an exciting year of learning and networking.

Raising awareness and understanding of key interest areas

The Action Group often joins forces with like-minded partners to advance certain issues in the marketplace. Two key issues that remain at the forefront in 2017 include:

Advance care directives
Working with Stratis Health and Honoring Choices Minnesota, we continue to promote the importance of advance care planning (ACP) for all adults. Our objective is to increase awareness and understanding about ACP and end-of-life care, so everyone can confidently participate in calm, informed, compassionate conversations before the need arises.

See our Advance Care Planning Statewide Call to Action here, and our employer communication toolkit here.

National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP)
We know that improving workforce health and productivity is always top of mind for our members, which is why we collaborate with MDH to engage employers and insurers statewide to make the NDPP a covered benefit. Many are surprised to learn that one in three American adults, or about 86 million people, have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know it. Our employers have shown great interest in doing their part to stop diabetes in its tracks. Our new and improved NDPP employee communications toolkit will be available later this month.

Representing our members
Action Group staff members had a particularly busy fall, speaking, appearing on panels, emceeing, blogging, and testifying on behalf of members. Some of the important topics addressed include supporting caregivers in the workplace, showcasing the value of regional health care coalitions, reducing low-value health care, driving greater transparency of provider cost and quality, and addressing the high cost of specialty drugs.

To view a summary of the activities, view the Express article here.

Our vision for 2018 involves:

  • Improving the access and affordabilty of mental health care.
  • Completing the work of the Specialty Drug Guiding Coalition.
  • Examining how purposefully working toward goals to improve the health care system leads to optimism and action at our Annual Employer Leadership Summit.
  • Reporting on the results of our Annual Employer Benefits Survey.
  • Convening member meetings in February, April, June, August, September and December, featuring topics selected by our members.
  • Conducting Community Dialogues to improve the health of communities statewide.
  • Keeping members and friends apprised of breaking Action Group and health care industry news news through our newsletters and social media, so we can all face the future with confidence and solve for challenging health care issues.

I am grateful for the engagement and enthusiasm of our members and the countless thought leaders, key informants, presenters, colleagues and friends, which has led to improvements large and small in ensuring the improved value of health care for all Minnesotans. Wishing you a happy, prosperous, productive, healthy 2018!