Category Archives: Choosing Wisely

Looking Back with our Eyes on the Future: 2016 in Review; 2017 Preview–Blog by Carolyn Pare


The Action Group is a member-led organization, and our collective accomplishments reflect the priorities and passions of our members.

As the year draws to a close, it is appropriate to celebrate what we achieved in 2016, and look ahead to new opportunities for learning and collaboration in 2017. Here are the highlights!


Top Highlights of 2016:



Deb Krause

Adding new members and staff

We were pleased to add Allina Health, Medica, Metropolitan Council, and Preferred One 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.

We also welcomed Deb Krause to our staff, who brings with her a wealth of experience and a clear vision for future initiatives.

Enabling valuable conversations

We hosted 14 events to serve members and non-members. From our much-anticipated Annual Employer Leadership Summit, to high-impact meetings on topics such as engaging employees as consumers, promoting cost effective maternity care, and best practices in addressing diabetes, it was a busy year of learning and networking for all. And our findings open new pathways for making the health care purchasers’ voice heard in the marketplace.

Our findings open new pathways for making the health care purchasers’ voice heard in the marketplace

Identifying best practices and insights

Through our proprietary Annual Employer Benefits Survey, we uncovered many fascinating findings.

Did you know that consumer education is the number one tactic employers are using to control premium trends? Or that one-fourth of all employers are planning to change health plan vendors in the coming year?

View the Survey summary here.



Consumer education is the number one tactic employers are using to control premium trends


Increasing awareness and understanding of advance care planning

The Action Group, Stratis Health, and Honoring Choices Minnesota joined forces to ignite an advance care planning (ACP) movement across Minnesota.

Our objective is to increase awareness and understanding about ACP and end-of-life care, so every stakeholder can confidently participate in calm, informed, compassionate conversations before the need arises.

See our Advance Care Planning Statewide Call to Action here.


Increased awareness and understanding of ACP and end-of-life care allows for calm, informed compassionate conversations before the need arises.

Improving workforce health and productivity through access to the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP)

NDPPLogo_English_CMYKOne in three of American adults, or about 86 million people, have prediabetes and 90% of them don’t know it.

That’s why the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is collaborating with The Action Group to engage employers and insurers across the state to make the NDPP a covered benefit for employees.

Bridging the gap in quality through Minnesota Bridges to Excellence (MNBTE)

mnbte_logo_text2MNBTE is unique in the market: purchaser-led, simple, unbiased and fully transparent, high standards, and focus on continuous improvement in 2016, this pay-for-performance program rewarded 276 clinics across the state and in border communities with nearly $1 million for improving outcomes for patients with diabetes, vascular disease, and depression. Read the press release here. See event highlights and photos here.

Impacting care delivered in Minnesota

While health care is dynamic and everything is changing, we know that the MNBTE program is improving care for all Minnesotans. One doctor wrote: “Our focus is on the Triple Aim of improving and enhancing the patient experience while making care affordable. Our clinicians and teams work tirelessly to ensure the best possible care and outcomes for every patient.” Another doctor reflected, “MNBTE continuously challenges us to raise the bar on delivering optimal care for our patients.”

Minnesota Bridges to Excellence (MNBTE) is improving care for all MInnesotans


Learning Together: Specialty Pharmacy


Two years of study through our Specialty Pharmacy Learning and Action Network culminated in an extremely well attended Community Dialogue, where we rolled out the framework for getting the Five Rights, Right: Right drug, right price, right place, right support, right data.

The Action Group has received national attention for this leading-edge work and will now convene a multi-stakeholder workgroup to determine specific action items, deliverables and a multi-year timeline.




Indeed, it’s been an action-packed year, and the future looks bright.

Happy new year to all of the members of The Action Group, as well as our valued stakeholders and collaborators!

Carolyn Pare is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Minnesota Health Action Group.



Helping Employees Choose Wisely: Blog by Dominic Lorusso, Director, Health Partnership for Consumer Reports

c7c5c542-43eb-4146-a0df-5535cf3c0ba3A disturbingly high incidence of low-value and no-value care is harming patients physically and financially. In fact, the Institute of Medicine issued a report saying that waste accounted for 30 percent of health care spending nationally, or $750 billion per year in 2010.

Through Choosing Wisely, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation and Consumer Reports, we’re doing something about it — along with the Minnesota Health Action Group.


The Action Group is one of our long-time consumer communication partners, using and promoting the many diverse, patient-friendly, and free resources available to employers.

  • Making Healthy Choices: Patients are faced with many health care choices; employers are interested in helping employees and their family members make informed decisions. To help, Consumer Reports created Making Health Choices, a toolset including a video series, mobile app, and website, using Choosing Wisely. Learn more here.
  • Co-branded microsites: By co-branding with us, employers have a place to send employees and their dependents for evidence-based Choosing Wisely materials that can be read, watched or downloaded.
  • Co-branded collateral: Interested in co-branding Choosing Wisely collateral for your employees? Consumer Reports can co-brand certain pieces of collateral (such as posters and wallet cards) at no cost.

What is 30 percent of health care spending for your organization, and would you like help in 2017 reducing this waste?


Consumer Reports has been working with The Action Group to develop a high-value, turnkey, no-cost 2017 campaign for Minnesota employers. Please watch for monthly messaging from The Action Group! The campaign will include:

  • Curated content from Choosing Wisely: Actionable, newsworthy and aligned with national health observances (e.g., Heart Month, Cancer Awareness Month).
  • Brief “feature” paragraph: The information will be linked to Choosing Wisely content, and can be used on your website, or in your organization’s newsletter.
  • E-mail reminders: Reminders to use specific Choosing Wisely content will be sent to members by the 15th of the month for the upcoming month.


We are looking forward to working with The Action Group in the coming year, and encourage you to reach out with questions about using the materials, or co-branding to meet your employee communication needs:

Dominic Lorusso is Director, Health Partnership for Consumer Reports.

Blog Post: Reflecting on 2014; Looking Ahead in 2015 by Carolyn Pare, Minnesota Health Action Group President and CEO

As I began to prepare for the first member meeting of the year, designed to reflect on 2014 accomplishments and imagine 2015 possibilities, I wondered how I could fill 90 minutes. By the time my presentation was completed, I had to do a lot of paring down to fit the allotted time. It was a pleasure to host a full house, with over 40 Action Group members and guests in attendance.

Meeting highlights are summarized below. To view my presentation, you may either click here for an abbreviated version, or click here to log into the Member Center for the full version. And be sure to login to to access valuable tools and resources such as our Purchaser’s Guides, toolkits, Choosing Wisely® materials, meeting presentations, member contact list, and more. The website is continuously updated, so be sure to check in frequently.

A Busy 2014 

  • Minnesota Bridges to Excellence
    • Record number of clinics rewarded, sharing over $700,000 in reward payments
      • Optimal diabetes care: 62 clinics for achievement; 64 clinics for improvement
      • Optimal vascular care: 69 clinics for achievement; 132 clinics for improvement
      • Depression remission at six months: 75 clinics for achievement; 40 clinics for improvement
      • There were 12 clinics that met achievement goals in all three disease states, compared to only three in 2013
    • Increase in rewarded clinics directly translates to outstanding patient care
      • 5,600 more patients with diabetes
      • 2,700 more patients with vascular disease
      • 850 more patients with moderate-severe depression
  • Care Delivery Learning Network: Deep dive into overuse, high cost, and variability for:
  • Annual Employer Benefits Survey (42% increase in participation in 2014)
    • Each employer would have to pay a consultant upwards of $40,000 to conduct a similar survey (included in Action Group membership fees)
    • Offers invaluable strategic and tactical plan design details, along with insight into health plans, prescription drug trends, wellness programs, market innovations, and more
  • Choosing Wisely®
  • Member Meetings (Most presentations are available at
    • Cancer Care and Prevention
    • Improving Patient Safety
    • Closing the Gap in Obesity Management
    • Accountable Care Organizations
    • Wellness Incentive Design and Legal Challenges
  • Special Meetings
    • 7th Annual Employer Leadership Summit (during the worst blizzard of 2014!)
    • Minnesota Bridges to Excellence Recognition Event (plus Guiding Coalition and Champions of Change meetings)
    • Diabetes Prevention Summit at Mall of America 

An Exciting 2015

  • Ongoing Meetings and Initiatives
  • Employer Benefits Survey (now in its fifth year!)
  • Care Delivery Learning Network
    • Specialty Pharmacy Phase I (January-April 2015)
    • Specialty Pharmacy Phase II (May-December 2015)
  • National Diabetes Prevention Program
    • Received grant funding from the MN Department of Health to assist in adoption and implementation
    • Will provide resources, expertise and technical assistance to four communities

We also need to:

  • Continue our collective work to ensure that data and information is freely accessible to the people who write the checks for health care — individuals, employers and governmental entities — so they can be smart about what and how they buy.
  • Acknowledge that all purchasers are in this together; we can’t continue to shift cost from one group or entity, say government to commercial to self-insured to individual.
  • Understand the real cost of goods and services, the quality of procedures and outcomes, and get a handle on misuse, overuse and mistakes to make health care affordable and available to all.

Action Group membership has grown more in the past year than it has in the previous several years. This growth indicates that we have reached a tipping point here in Minnesota. As we often say, we can do together what none of us could do alone.