OpenNotes Empowers Patients; Rx Pricing Drama; Have a Heart (in February); Save the Summit date; Employer Benefits Survey Coming Soon…

January 26, 2016

Weekly Buzz: Demand for Access to Patient Medical Records Growing

The Obama administration says doctors and hospitals cannot require patients to state a reason for requesting their records, and cannot deny access out of a general concern that patients might be upset by the information, in new guidelines issued this month. “When patients can see their medical records, it is easier for them to participate in their health care. They can, for example, review what they were told by their doctors and, perhaps, consider other options for care.” Read more here.

The Action Group is partnering with MAPS (Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety) to bring OpenNotes to Minnesota, beginning in March. OpenNotes is a national initiative working to give patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses or other clinicians. To learn more, please view the January 20 member meeting presentation, and watch Express for details as they become available.

Helping Consumers Uncover the Best Prescription Drug Prices

CR-Logo-healthy-choices)Consumer Reports had secret shoppers make calls to the pharmacies of more than 200 stores across the country to price a market basket of five common generic prescription drugs for a one-month supply. The total price ranged from $83 at to $855 at CVS.

“It sounds crazy that you would need to approach buying prescription medications like you would a used car – by shopping around and haggling. But that’s the reality of today’s pharmaceutical marketplace,” says Stephen Schondelmeyer, Pharm.D., Ph.D., a pharmacoeconomics professor at the University of Minnesota and special senior advisor to The Action Group’s Specialty Pharmacy Action Network (formerly the Care Delivery Learning Network).

“We continuously encourage our members to integrate health care cost and quality education into all of their employee communications,” says Carolyn Pare, Action Group president and CEO. “Helpful articles like ‘6 Tips for Finding the Best Prescription Drug Prices‘ from Consumer Reports is an excellent example of practical, easy-to-understand things consumers can do to take control and lower costs, without making any quality concessions.”

More Pharmacy News
Major Drugmakers Push Back in U.S. Price Debate
“With a backlash brewing over the price of medicines in the U.S., drugmakers are pushing back with a new message: Most people don’t pay retail.   

“Top pharmaceutical executives said in interviews this week that the media focus on retail, or ‘list prices,’ for branded medications is misplaced.

“They stressed that the actual prices paid by prescription benefit managers, insurers and other large purchasers are reduced through negotiated discounts.”

Click here for the full story.

February is National Heart Month!

dbb961f8-4a97-4de0-a8b1-41bf58e96686Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, one in four deaths are caused by heart disease.

The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices. Please click here for a free employee communications toolkit.

1421206367_checklistAction Group Annual Employer Benefits Survey for Members and Non-members Coming Soon!

The Action Group will soon be conducting its sixth annual online Health Benefits Survey to encourage peer-to-peer information sharing, illustrate how Minnesota employers compare against other Minnesota employers, as well as national benchmarks, and share best practices. It will be open to members and non-members and will be conducted between February 8 and February 24, 2016. Watch this space for details!

Mark your calendar with these key dates:

February 8: Survey launch – invitation to participate
February 23: SURVEY DUE – final day for submission
March 30: (7:30 a.m.-10 a.m.): Final Report distributed at Survey Results Meeting (for survey participants only)
April: Final report mailed to survey participants unable to attend the meetin

Join Us for the 9th Annual Employer Leadership Summit  

Save the date for The Action Group’s 9th Annual Employer Leadership Summit on April 22, 2016. This event is open to all and was sold out in 2015. We will feature national and international health care and benefits thought leaders, the Innovator’s Showcase, interactive polling, networking opportunities, sponsored booths, and lively discussions. If you or a partner organization would like to sponsor an exhibit, please contact us!

Thought for the Week

“Based on recent studies and our own enforcement experience, far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information. This must change.”

Jocelyn Samuels, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services