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Employer's Role in the Opioid Crisis

Recent news on the economic toll of the opioid crisis and the impact on employers in terms of lost productivity and direct/indirect for their affected employees and families raises the question: what is the employer’s role in the opioid crisis? This is a presentation from MemphisBGH’s 2017 learning session outlining specific steps employers can take: Thank you to the National Safety Council for providing this guidance.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, February 15, 2018

Spotlight on Mental Health

The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions/MBGH Action Brief "Hope and Healing for Mental Illness is Possible" lays out the challenge for employers this way: " Mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability worldwide. As importantly, untreated depression and anxiety are leading causes of lost productivity and effectiveness in the workforce. In the U.S., about one in five adults will experience mental illness in a given year, 60 percent of whom don’t get help. Many who do reach out face a daunting labyrinth of high costs, a dearth of providers, and unsuccessful treatment, leading to waning motivation, hopelessness, and progressively worse symptoms." 

This is not a pretty picture for employers, but most importantly, it is not a pretty picture for your employees and their families. The Action Brief discusses how employers can take five specific actions to address these challenges:

  • Require independent validation of mental health parity compliance
  • Reduce barriers to in-network access to behavior health professionals
  • Promote the collaborative care model
  • Support acess to mental health medication options
  • Support, engage, and advocate for employee mental health and well-being. 

Click here to get a copy of the Action Brief.

Other Actions for Employers

Use the Working Well: Leading a Mentally Healthy Business toolkit from the Northeast Business Group on Health, to (1) know the impact (2) break the silence (3) deliver affordable access and (4) build a culture of well-being. Find valuable employer action steps, resources, and case studies to help shape your approach to mental health.

Read this blog, from our sister-coalition the Minnesota Health Action Group, on actually delivering on the promise of mental health parity.

Attend the Methodist Healthcare Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network mental health breakfast on March 6 where Marlie Matlin, Academy Award-winning actress and mental health activist, will share her personal story and highlight the importance of acceptance and help for those with mental health concerns. There will also be breakout session on opioid abuse, domestic violence, and adverse childhood events (ACEs). Click here for more information and to register.

Get results, later this year, from the National Alliance and MBGH deep dive into how health plans and mental health-specialty managers perform on essential elements of mental health services provided to employers and employees.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Are 80% of Your Employees 50+ Getting Regular Colorectal Cancer Screenings?

March is national colorectal cancer screening month! 

Screening Matters

According to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, “Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the U.S when men and women are combined. Yet it is one of the most preventable.

The business community has an important role to play in promoting colorectal cancer screening and much to gain on saving on health care costs, promoting a healthy workforce with increased productivity, and demonstrating corporate social responsibility.

Join the national and Tennessee effort to get 80% of adults age 50 and older regularly screened for colorectal cancer.”

If we reach 80%, there can be fewer than 200,000 colorectal deaths in less than 20 years. Tennessee consistently ranks above the national rate for colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer mortality so we have s significant opportunity to save lives right here in our state.

Campaign Support is Available

1. Start your colorectal cancer screening campaign in March, and continue it through the rest of the year!

Sign the corporate pledge at

2. Have a colorectal cancer awareness event or highlight colorectal cancer screening at your next health fair

Contact Cristie Upshaw Travis at [email protected] if you want to learn more about Gastro One participating and actually setting up colonoscopy appointments for your staff. 

3. Use turn-key communication tools and material for ease of implementation:

National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable:

  • Short messages suitable for internal email blasts and/or social media
  • Leadership letter to employees
  • Communication guidebook

Click here for more information on how employers can support increased screening

Love Your Colon

  • Newsletter
  • Flyer
  • Tent cards
  • Pledge card
  • Post card
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, February 5, 2018

Get Ready for "It's Quittin' Time in Tennessee"

February 5-9, 2018 is "It's Quittin' Time in Tennessee" week, a statewide campaign to promote awareness of and resources for quitting smoking. Click here to download the graphic and use it in your communications to show your employees this is a community-wide campaign! Feel free to continue, or even start, your own campaign in the weeks and months after the official week.

The evidence is clear why employers should care:

  • Quitting smoking saves lives, improves health and reduces health care costs.
  • Reducing workforce smoking rates improves employee health, increases productivity and saves dollars.
  • Reducing tobacco use rates promotes healthy communities from which you pull your employees.
  • There are resources available to help: Tennessee Quitline, local quit programs and health provider interventions

Frame this week as a kickoff to a campaign around tobacco cessation and plan to celebrate those that quit at the Great American Smokeout in November!

Here are some easy to implement suggestions, and resources, but be creative! We will post more specific "It's Quittin' Time In Tennessee" material as it becomes available.

Be sure your employees know the benefits you offer them! This is a great week to highlight all the insurance benefits and tobacco and smoking programs you offer.

Consider a daily employee communication that week. You may want to take a page each day from 10 Things You Should Know About Quitting Smoking or Plan to Quit Cards 

NEW: Offer, or announce, upcoming, smoking cessation classes. Share information about UT Health Science Center's research study focused on helping people manage their weight when the quit smoking. There are no costs for those that qualify to participate and they receive telephonic smoking cessation counseling, free Chantix, as well as weight managent support. Employees can call 901-448-2000 to learn more and checkout the website at htttps://

Here are some general resources you will find helpful:

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Memphis Has a Top Hospital! Le Bonheur Named a Leapfrog Top Children's Hospital

On December 7, 2017, The Leapfrog Group announced Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital has been named to its 2017 national list of Top Children’s Hospitals. The elite award is one of the most competitive honors American hospitals can receive in safety and quality. The winning facilities were officially recognized at Leapfrog’s Annual Top Hospitals Ceremony in Arlington, VA. 

Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO of the Memphis Business Group on Health, the Regional Leader for the Leapfrog Group in west Tennessee, north Mississippi and eastern Arkansas, and Acting Chair of the Leapfrog Group Board of Directors, presented the award to Le Bonheur. “For 10 years I have been recognizing Tennessee’s Top Hospitals, but this is the first time a Memphis-area hospital has made the list. I am so honored to recognize Le Bonheur’s commitment and achievements in quality and patient safety and thank them for the work it took to perform at this level”, said Travis. 

Donna Vickery, Director of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at Le Bonheur, accepted the Top Hospital award from Leah Binder, Leapfrog CEO, and Cristie Upshaw Travis, MBGH CEO and Acting Chair of the Leapfrog Group Board of Directors.

This year, Leapfrog recognized 109 Top Hospitals across the country. Of those, 10 were Top Children’s Hospitals, 45 Top General Hospitals, 18 Top Rural Hospitals and 36 Top Teaching Hospitals.

“Leapfrog Top Hospitals are the nation’s role models for putting patients first,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We congratulate the Boards, management, clinicians, staff and volunteers whose dedication makes all the difference.”

The Top Hospital award is given to teaching, general, rural and children's hospitals that publicly report their performance through the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and meet the high standards defined in the Top Hospitals Methodology. This includes infection rates, maternity care and a hospital’s ability to prevent medication errors, among other standards. To see the full national list of institutions honored as 2017 Top Hospitals, please visit

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Memphis Hospitals React To Their Hospital Safety Grades

On October 31, 2017, the Leapfrog Group released their latest Hospital Safety Grade for over 2,600 hospitals in the US, including 10 hospitals within a 50-mile radius of Memphis. Memphis Business Group on Health is the Regional Leader for The Leapfrog Group in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas.

Each hospital is assigned a grade of A,B,C,D, or F reflecting their overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.

The grades are based on performance measures from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control, and the American Hospital Association. Hospitals have access to the full methodology and are given an advance preview period. As Leapfrog points out “the grade is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public.”

In the Memphis-area, Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett was the only hospital to get an A. Even with this achievement, they didn’t sit on their laurels. As Chris Locke, Saint Francis-Bartlett CEO, put it on News Channel 3, “Although we are an A today, I tell our staff it doesn’t mean something bad can’t happen here…We have to stay on our toes." This is the attitude of an A hospital. Never relaxing; putting the patient first every minute of the day; using their A grade to recommit to patient safety.

Saint Francis-Bartlett

Methodist Germantown

Baptist Collierville

Baptist DeSoto

Methodist North

Methodist South

Methodist University

Saint Francis-Memphis

Baptist Memphis

Regional One











Source: Hospital Safety Grade, downloaded from on 11/28/17. Note: Hospitals not receiving a grade did not have sufficient volume to calculate performance. Pediatric and other specialty hospitals are not assigned a grade.

Click here to get the details on why these hospitals were assigned the grades they received. 

As you can see, other Memphis hospitals earned lower grades for safety, and they would be wise to take the same approach as Saint Francis-Bartlett: use their grade to push for progress. However, some hospitals tried to explain away their poor grades. Explanations included:

  • Not completing the Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Hospitals are not required to complete the survey and many who do not report received an A. That said, completing the survey is the right thing to do because it gives more information upon which to assign a grade. In addition, by completing the survey, hospitals can provide more recent information for several of the performance measures. And, the survey provides critical results on key conditions not covered in the Hospital Safety Grade, such as maternity care. Click here to get Leapfrog Hospital Survey results for the Memphis-area.
  • The data are old. Most of the data are from 2015 or 2016, the latest available. Some data provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are for 2013-2015, but is still the latest available. Also remember that by completing the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, hospitals can provide even more current data for several of the measures. The Hospital Safety Grade is updated every 6 months so that the most current available data is used to assign grades.
  • There are better proprietary, collaborative tools to measure and compare performance. These types of tools do serve a purpose in performance improvement. However, since a hospital’s results are not publicly released, they do not provide those of us that use and pay for care the information we need to make decisions or to hold hospitals accountable for the care they provide.

People in Memphis need, and deserve, to know this hospital safety data. More than 500 people die every day in the United States due to problems with safety in hospitals, like errors and infections. Memphis hospitals should be leading the way toward saving lives, not trying to explain away their poor grades. The humble approach that Saint Francis-Bartlett took in earning their A is a model for all of us on service to people who entrust their lives to a hospital.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, November 28, 2017

New Clinical Advisory Committee Facilitates Solutions for Memphis Employers

Memphis Business Group on Health's new Clinical Advisory Committee serves as a vehicle for understanding the priorities and challenges of Memphis-area self-insured employers so Committee member organizations can deploy innovative programs, services and solutions to meet those needs and contribute to their own overall success.

Initial members include:

  • Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation: Henry Sullivant, MD
  • Gastro One: Richard Aycock, MD
  • Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare: Aruther Townsend, MD
  • UTHSC's University Clinical Health: Brad Canada, MD

Over time the Committee will grow to a maximum of 10 member organizations.

The Committee will work together as a team and on a one-on-one basis with MBGH to explore and create solutions for priorities such as:

  • New provider payment models
  • Moving from wellness to well-being
  • Population health management
  • Clinical quality metrics for use in regional and national performance measurement and public reporting initiatives in which MBGH participates.

According to Cristie Upshaw Travis, MBGH CEO, "At our August meeting our guest speaker, Scott Conard MD, reminded us all that disease is the enemy. With a focus on this point, this Committee is our place to engage directly with the clinical community to help MBGH and participating organizations create solutions that are win-win-win for employers, patients, and providers. We are committed to working together to defeat the common enemy of disease". 

For more information on the Clinical Advisory Committee contact Cristie Upshaw Travis at [email protected].

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, September 5, 2017

PBM Evaluation Gives Employers Critical Performance Data

The "Understanding PBM Quality: 2016 National Alliance of Healtcare Purchaser Coalitions PBM Assessment" reports on 

areas where there is significant variation in PBM performance, areas where PBMs in general are successful, and where they all need to improve. 

The blinded public report can be used by employers as a discussion guide with your PBM to explore and benchmark their performancce as well as set expectations for future improvements.

MBGH employer members can get an UNBLINDED report revealing specific PBM performance by emailing Cristie Travis at [email protected] 

Participating PBMs cover over 250 million covered lives, 80% of the market, and include:

  • Cigna
  • CVS Health
  • Envision Options
  • Express Scripts
  • OptumRx
  • Perform Rx
  • Magellan Rx
  • United Health Care

Specific areas of importance to employers that are reported include (1) program organization; (2) efficiency & appropriateness; (3) specialty pharmaceuticals; (4) outpatient quality, safety, & adherence; (5) pharmaceutical management in chronic disease and behavioral health;  (5) pharmaceutical management for tobacco cessation and weight management; and (6) business practices.

Click here for a copy of the public report.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Resolve MDx Wins MBGH Innovation Slam!

Congratulations to Resolve MDx, who was voted the "best slam" by judges at MBGH's August 23, 2017 Annual Conference "Innovation as Strategy".

As Christer Czajkoski of Resolve MDx put it during his slam, what is the most expensive drug in the world? The one that doesn't work! 

Resolve MDx deploys their intelligent prescribing solution, IQRx™, to enable the right drug, in the right dose, for the right individual.

Often described as personalized or precision medicine, Resolve MDx uses pharmacogenetic testing to better understand how an individual's genetic make-up impacts their response to medications. This testing, combined with IQRx, allows physicians to develop strategies and to optimize drug therapies for the patient based upon their unique characteristics, minimizing adverse drug reactions and drug-drug interactions.

Learn more about Resolve MDx at

Thank you as well to our two other slammers! Nic Patee of Work Right, demostrating the dorsaVI technology that helps employers better understand how employees are actually doing their job so work can be adjusted to minimize injuries; and Scott Vogel of Regional One's Center for Innovation who tested out the concept of a "genius bar" where patients can meet with clinical technologists to learn how to use technology to better manage their own health. 


Slammers had to present their product or concept; engage the audience; and build in a little entertainment: all in less than 7 minutes! Thanks to the audience as well for encouraging each of the slammers. A good time was had by all.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Sunday, September 3, 2017

MBGH Offers Discounted Online Education Courses

MBGH is partnering with Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR) to provide discounted access to online courses desinged to help get better value for an organization's health care spend.

MBGH members, CEO Culture of Health participants, and HR/Benefit professionals at Partner and Patron-level conference sponsors are eligible for the discounts.

The 100-Level Course: Introduction to High-Value Health Care Purchasing is designed for benefit managers seeking to understand the marketplace and initial steps they can take. The regular price is $249. MBGH participants pay only $186.99 (25% discount)

The 200-Level Course: Strategies for High-Value Health Care Purchasing is designed for benefit manager seekiing to understand specific high-value strategies and take action. The regular price is $349. MBGH participants pay only $261.99 (25% discount)

Both courses are eligible for SHRM and HRCI continuing education credits.

Click here to learn more about the courses. Click "enroll today" on this website to get access to detailed course descriptions.

Contact Cristie Travis at [email protected] to request your coupon code and registration link. 

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Innovative Speakers Lined Up for MBGH Conference

We are excited to have these bright minds, full of innovative ideas, join us at MBGH's August 23 Wellness & Health Benefits Conference "Innovation as Strategy". More speakers will be announced soon! Click here to learn more and register!

Top Row: L to R: Roz Murray, Project and Research Manager, Catalyst for Payment Reform Innovation: Innovative Benefit Designs That Work; Greg Mansur, Principal, PwC, Innovation: Next Generation Benefit Strategies; Scott Conard, Physician, Author, Innovation: Creating Value Through Population Health

Middle Row: L to R: Laura Hammill, Chief People Officer, Limeade, Innovation: Moving from Wellness to Well-Being; Laurie Lee, Executive Director, State of TN Employee Benefit Plans, Innovation: Paying for Value

Bottom Row: L to R: Barbara McClanahan, Faculty, University of Memphis, Innovation: Innovation as a Strategy; Kristof Stremikis, Senior Manager, Pacific Business Group on Health, Innovation: Surviving Health Policy Changes (Again)

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May Resources to Manage Cost & Quality of Health Benefits

Use these resources to manage the cost and quality of your health benefits.

ACA/AHCA Comparison Tool: Use the Kaiser Family Foundation's tool to compare the provisions of the American Health Care Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4, 2017 to the existing ACA

2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey ChartPack: Get slides from the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey to help plan your benefit design for 2017 and use them in your presentations to others to support your decisions.

Employer Role in the Opioid Epidemic: Download the National Safety Council Employer Kit to get a guide on "The Proactive Role Employers Can Take: Opioids in the Workplace' as well as tools to review and update your benefits and drug-free workplace policies, fact sheets, safety talks, and posters. You will be surprised how much opioid abuse impacts your organization and the steps you can take to help your employees and mitigate your risks and costs.

Hospital Safety Grade: See how the hospitals in your network fared on the latest Hospital Safety Grade. If you have Methodist Olive Branch Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital Bartlett in your network, then you have access to the only 2 hospitals that scored an A in our market! If your network hospitals have a C or worse, ask them why and what they are doing to improve the care of the employees and their famiies your are sending them!

Vox Video on Hospital Responses to Hospital Acquired Central Line Infections: Learn how some hospitals respond to hospital acquired infections like the airline industry (zero tolerance) and others like the automobile industry (just the risk associated with driving). Did you know that Methodist Olive Branch, Methodist Germantown, Methodist University, Methodist North and Saint Francis Bartlett all had 0 central line infections in the latest Hospital Safety Grade? Check out how your network hospitals compare using the Hospital Safety Grade link above. Click on "view the full score" to see infection rates and other details.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 15, 2017

MBGH Joins the National Alliance in a New Vision for Specialty Drugs Marketplace

To drive collaboration to control cost, reduce waste and maximize effectiveness of specialty drugs, the non-profit National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (National Alliance) has developed stakeholder guidelines and an engagement framework.

“Specialty drugs are the fastest growing area of spend for employers today,” said Mike Thompson, National Alliance president and CEO. “While these new drugs are truly innovative and important, the specialty drug marketplace itself is dysfunctional with high cost, high variation and high waste. We need to collaborate with stakeholders to wring out the costs of poor quality and unwarranted cost, complexity and conflicts.”

The Five Rights framework targets critical issues and opportunities for specialty stakeholders including manufacturers, providers, health plans, and pharmacy benefit managers. The framework outlines key areas for each stakeholder to improve and was developed to raise purchaser expectations for industry stakeholders to help them better understand, evaluate and improve the specialty drug marketplace.

The Five Rights are: Right Drug, Right Price, Right Place, Right Support and Right Data. Employers should use the stakeholder engagement framework to evaluate how specialty drugs are managed by their PBM and health administrator and work with their vendors to take actions to bring their programs into alignment. 

The framework was developed as a collaborative effort of the National Alliance and several purchaser-led member coalitions including the Minnesota Health Action Group, Midwest Business Group on Health and the Florida Health Care Coalition. The information is being shared with purchaser coalitions across the country.

“After two years of intensive study, Action Group members developed this framework to offer a common ground for all stakeholders,” said Carolyn Pare, president and CEO for the Minnesota Health Action Group, developer of the initial Five Rights. “Offering a road map for the Right Drug, Right Price, Right Place, Right Support and Right Data, this framework provides insights for each stakeholder to do their part to deliver on that promise.”

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Good News on Early Elective Deliveries; C-Sections Still Too Common

All moms want to give their baby a healthy start. But far too many hospitals are falling short of national quality metrics for things like early elective deliveries, C-sections, and episiotomies. A new report from @TheLeapfrogGroup and @CastlightHealth explores these issues that underscore why a family’s choice of birth hospital is so important.

Nationally, hospitals’ efforts to reduce their rate of early elective deliveries has been a tremendous success, declining to just 1.9% compared to 17.0% in 2010. The analysis also showed the rate of episiotomies has fallen to 9.6%. While this represents progress from the rate of 13.0% first reported in 2012, this rate is still significantly higher than Leapfrog’s target of 5% or less. The C-section rate of 25.8% is virtually unchanged from the prior year and is still higher than Leapfrog’s target rate of 23.9% or lower.

There has been significant improvement in the rates of early electve deliveries and C-sections in the past year in the Memphis market. Only Saint Francis Bartlett had an early elective delivery rate above 1% (3.3%). All hospitals, except Saint Francis Bartlett, either decreased their C-section rate or kept it constant. The hospital average C-section rate dropped from 28.0% to 24.9%. Click here to get hospital-specific results in Memphis.

“We must remain vigilant and continue to demand public reporting of this information to ensure the safety of mothers and their children, as well as to educate employers, purchasers and women themselves who have a powerful stake in the quality of maternity care,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of @TheLeapfrogGroup addresses that although the rate of early elective deliveries declined to near zero, there is still a lot of work to do to continue to reduce rates of C-section and episiotomies. Learn more about their new report on hospital performance:


Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, February 28, 2017

High Deductibles High Risks?

Employers continue to migrate toward high deductible health plans, but as more employers adopt this strategy and more employees are covered in these plans, there is an increased need to focus on avoiding unintended consequences such as forgoing needed care.

Check out this white paper from Abbvie which describes the current environment for high deductible plans, the potential challenges, and recommendations on steps employers should take to be sure these plans are effective.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Sunday, February 26, 2017

MBGH CEO Culture of Health Initiative Receives National Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 16, 2016

Contact: Bailey Jacobs, U.S. Chamber Foundation, 202-463-57              

Memphis Business Group on Health Named a Winner of the Inaugural Health Means Business Healthy10 Awards  

February 16, 2017—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Health Means Business campaign named Memphis Business Group on Health one of the 10 winners of the inaugural Healthy 10 Awards, in the category of workforce health.

Cristie Upshaw Travis, MBGH CEO, and Claire Revels Shapiro, Director of Human Resources at Rhodes College and President of the MBGH Board of Directos, accepted the award. "MBGH accepts this award on behalf of the 64 employers that are creating cultures of health at the workplace and changing what it means to work in Memphis. This initiative, which also supports Healthy Shelby and Healthier Tennessee, results in health for our employees, success for our organizations, and, through our collective action, economic development for Memphis" said Travis in a pre-taped acceptance speech. Shapiro was at the awards ceremony to accept on behalf of MBGH.

The Health Means Business ‘Healthy10 Awards’ were created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a way to honor ten outstanding business-led initiatives or cross-sector collaborations between local businesses and traditional and non-traditional partners to improve community wellness and access to economic opportunity. 

"The Memphis Business Group on Health’s CEO Culture of Health initiative helps empower business leaders to be health champions,” said Marc DeCourcey, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “Business leadership is vital to creating a culture of health and it’s an honor to recognize this program."

The Chamber Foundation announced the winners of the Healthy10 Awards on February 16 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the awards program here.

# # #

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

The U.S .Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, February 16, 2017

MBGH Joins the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions' Recommendations for Changing the ACA

Memphis Business Group on Health has joined with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (formerly National Buisness Coalition Health) calling upon the Trump Administration and US Congress to adopt specific principles as they consider "repeal and replace" or  even "repair". 

These principles aim to continue the advancements achieved through the ACA for new payment models moving from volume to value, increased transparency of quality and safety for providers, continued emphasis on research to identify most effective treatment, and support for employer-sponsored coverage including tax exclusion of benefits, flexibiity and innovation.

Click here to read the piece.

Cristie Upshaw Travis, MBGH CEO, serves on the Board of Governors of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, February 14, 2017

MBGH and HealthCare 21 Awarded National Grant to Support Adoption of New Payment Models

Memphis Business Group on Health and HealthCare 21 Business Coalition Awarded Grant for Innovative Practices in Healthcare Payment Reform 

MBGH and HC21 are among the first four coalition projects to be awarded grants by the Purchaser Value Network to support our work across Tennessee to advance the adoption of new value-based payment models among both employers and providers. Key partners in our project include the State of Tennessee Health Care Innovation Initaitive, State of Tennessee Employee Benefit Administration, Cigna, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, self-insured employer members of MBGH and HC21, and other providers. 

The Purchaser Value Network has awarded initial matching grants, up to $50,000 each, to non-profit regional business coalitions implementing innovative practices in value-based purchasing and healthcare payment reform.*

Health Care 21 Business Coalition and Memphis Business Group on Health were awarded $37,500 to explore models of payment reform with two employers to align with current state and national efforts in 2018.  

Colorado Business Group on Health was awarded $50,000, to promote advanced primary care by integrating the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) incentives, a national advanced primary care medical home model to strengthen primary care through regionally-based multi-payer payment reform and care delivery transformation. Aligning the commercial and governmental purchasers in this market will help increase quality improvement, according to physician practices across the state.

Florida Health Care Coalition received $50,000, to finish developing and promoting a risk-stratified bundled payment for cardiac care, a project started under a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation grant. This initiative aligns commercial and governmental cardiac purchasing strategies across the Florida market.  

Northeast Business Group on Health received $50,000 to convene employers, health plans and a hospital system to develop a multi-stakeholder pilot intervention to reduce C-sections in the state. Intervention methodologies will include a bundled payment for hospital-based maternity care or a blended case rate for vaginal and C-section deliveries.  

Additional grants will be awarded throughout the year to further support initiatives in areas such as maternity care payment redesign, accountable care organizations, prescription drug value-based purchasing initiatives, and redesigning complex care management to reduce emergency department usage.

*Funding provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation


The Purchaser Value Network, an initiative of the Pacific Business Group on Health, aims to accelerate the adoption of high value healthcare delivery and payment models through policy advocacy, education and purchaser engagement. The network seeks to inject purchaser perspectives and innovative best practices into federal and state policy decision making, educate employers about value-based purchasing and advocacy opportunities, and aligns three critical purchaser sectors—private employers, states, and the federal government—around evidence-based practices. For more information, visit

Cristie Upshaw Travis, MBGH CEO, is a member of the Purchaser Value Network national Advisory Committee.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, February 7, 2017

RivalHealth CEO, Pete Durand, to Keynote MBGH Annual Awards Luncheon

Pete Durand, CEO of RivalHealth, will keynote MBGH's Annual Awards Luncheon on April 27, 2017 11:30-1:00 at Rhodes College. He will also sit in on our CEO Culture of Health Learning Session at 10:00 that morning. 

Fitness, it's what Pete does. A recovering engineer, MBA and somewhat scarred/successful entrepreneur, he decided that pouring passion into your career makes sense only if you REALLY believe in what you do.

Eight years ago Pete started RivalHealth, a company focused on delivering fully customized and individual exercise/nutrition (=fitness) solutions to individuals, companies, schools and universities. RivalHealth is now in all 50 states, 12 countries and 66 languages.

A successful corporate executive and entrepreneur at companies like Kimberly Clark, Eaton and General Electric, Pete was inspired to start RivalHealth because of the powerful impact proper fitness and nutrition can have on all walks of life. He is an accomplished triathlete, exercise junkie, nutrition nut and NASM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Pete holds a BS in Industrial Engineering, an MBA and is a former Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas.

Pete is an inspiration to both employers and employees and his passion shows! You don't want to miss this opportunity to be uplifted by his message and head back to work ready to implement some of his practical, yet impactful, suggestions.

Click here to add the CEO Culture of Health Learning Session on your calendar and here to add the Annual Awards Luncheon. Click download event to get calendar appointment. Registration for both events will start in March.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Rankings of Clinical Preventive Services Released

HealthPartners Institute and the National Commission on Prevention Priorities (NCPP)  announced the 2017 update of their Ranking of Clinical Preventive Services, which compares 28 of the most cost-effective and life-saving evidence-based interventions.

Three of the most cost-effective and life saving conversations a clinician can have with a patient include:

Advising adults to quit smoking;

Encouraging children and teens to not start smoking; and

Getting vaccines

This effort, a major initiative in the NCPP's Prevention Priorities work, demonstrates the value of evidence in supporting a healthier nation.

Cristie Upshaw Travis, Memphis Business Group on Health CEO, is a commission member of NPCC.

Click here to read more and learn about the NCPP.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, January 9, 2017

New Preventive Services for Women Regulations in 2017

From "On December 20, 2016, the Health Resources and Services Administration updated the preventive services for women by accepting the recommendations of the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative, convened by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and comprised of representatives of national groups with expertise in women’s health. The committee reaffirmed the services for women that were recommended in 2011 and added one new one for mammography."

"Table 1 summarizes all of the preventive services affecting women recommended by these three committees that the ACA requires plans to cover without cost sharing."

Click here to read the full article including highlights of the updated reqguirements.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, January 4, 2017

MBGH Hospital Safety Grade Facebook Ad Reaches 8,000 Memphians!

To reach more Memphis-area residents to help them learn about the Hospitals Safety Grade and see results for local hospitals, MBGH ran an ad on Facebook for a week last fall. Click here to read about Memphis hospital grades.

The results were impressive with 7,920 people reached and 696 engaging with the post by clicking on the map or going to the Hospital Safety Grade website for more information.

Although it makes sense, it was interesting to note that as people aged they were more likely to engage with the post with almost 50% (311) of those that engaged being age 55-64. This age group has a higher likelihood of being hospitalized than those under age 55.

And, in a similar finding, 91% (634) of those that engaged were female. We all know that women are the most engaged in their family's health.

Other findings include:

91% of post engagements were from smart phones

70% of the clicks to the website occurred Friday-Sunday

These findings help us define the key audience for the Hospital Safety Score and social media provides us a flexible, customizable platform to reach that audience.

You can use the results of this ad to help you plan how to best reach your employees with the Hospital Safety Grade information. You can also use similar analyses to better understand how employees are engaged with your other health and health benefit communications. Refresh your memory on the employee segmentation recommendations that Benz Consulting made at our 2016 Annual Conference here. Download the presentations and see the Benz presentation at page 142.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How NQF Matters in Memphis

From the desk of Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO, Memphis Business Group on Health 

As announced in early December 2016, I am honored to have been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Quality Forum (NQF).

Do you know how much the work of NQF matters in Memphis? For example:

  • Today, over 300 NQF-endorsed measures are used in more than 20 federal programs. These measures and programs help determine the care that Memphis-area Medicare participants receive and how and how much our Memphis hospitals and physicians get paid by Medicare.
  • Regional health plans in Tennessee, such as BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Cigna, tend to follow Medicare's lead in both coverage and payment approaches.
  • The measures used in the Hospital Safety Grade and Leapfrog Hospital Survey for Memphis-area hospitals are NQF-endorsed.
  • Tennessee health plans use NQF-endorsed measures to evaluate the quality of their networks and in their new payment models.

And, because of NQF, we can compare the quality and cost of care we have here in Memphis to other communities across the country since each community is using the same measures and data to evaluate care. Through the NQF we have standardized our measures so we can track our own improvements over time and identify best practices both within Memphis and elsewhere to rapidly advance care delivery.

Since 1997, MBGH has focused on working toward and advancing value-based purchasing in the greater-Memphis market. We defined value-based purchasing as a function of health status/outcomes, patient experience, and cost. Right away we were challenged with the fact that although employers knew their costs, but they had no idea what they were getting in terms of the health status/outcomes for their employees or the experience their employees were having as they navigated the healthcare delivery system.

We were not alone in lacking this information and understanding. The nation as a whole only had crude ways of evaluating the quality and experience of care using such measures as mortality, length of stay, and cost per stay/day in the hospital. Unfortunately, these early measures didn’t really help us understand the underlying issues that were driving these results, nor did they provide information upon which we could make purchasing decisions or help employees select providers.

Fast forward 20 years later to 2017 and we are now operating in a very different world. In fact, there are many who say we have too much information now! So, how do we decide what measures to use and when to use them?

The National Quality Forum (NQF) was established to help us answer these questions. Through it’s measure endorsement process, NQF:

Calls for measures that matter for health/well-being; prevention/treatment of leading causes of mortality; person and family-centered care; effective communication and care coordination; patient safety; and affordable care. 

Conducts detailed reviews of proposed measures through standing committees to ensure they reflect sound science, will be useful to providers and patients, and will make a difference in improving quality. 

Seeks public comment and input from any interested party during the decision-making process.

Provides oversight of committee decisions through the Consensus Standards Approval Committee which helps ensure consistency across standing committees and alignment with overall NQF goals.

Includes an appeals process through an Appeals Board.

I have always thought it was important to be actively involved in national policies that have such a significant impact on the Memphis community. After all, if we don’t get involved, we may find that the measures and the quality and cost that they drive are not in our best interest. I am often the only Southerner on a committee; I am often one of only a few employer/purchaser representatives on a committee; I am often one of only a few market-focused (vs. nationally or institutionally-focused) representatives on a committee. All of these voices need to be heard during the decision-making process. And, because I am involved, I have a much deeper understanding for these measures that are critical to the quality, cost, and payment right here in Memphis.

Please let me know if you have any questions about NQF. I am also available to speak with you and your senior leadership about NQF and the role it plays in measurement and federal programs. The more we understand and the more active we are, the better this process will be for us in Memphis.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 3, 2017

MBGH CEO Elected to National Quality Forum Board of Directors

On December 3, 2016, The National Quality Forum (NQF) announced the appointment of Cristie Upshaw Travis, chief executive officer of the Memphis Business Group on Health, as well as two other new members to its Board of Directors:

  • Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, president of clinical services and chief medical officer of HCA; and
  • Jack Resneck, MD, professor and vice chair of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.

According to Travis, "I am honored to be selected to serve alongside national health, healthcare, consumer, purchaser, and policy leaders as the National Quality Forum continues our commitment to lead collaboration to improve health and healthcare through measurement and quality initiatives".

In addition to serving on the NQF Board of Directors, Travis co-chairs the NQF All Cause Admissions/Readmissions Standing Committee and its Measures Application Partnership Hospital Workgroup, which advises CMS on measures for use in federal programs. She also served as Vice Chair and Chair of NQF's Consensus Standards Approval Committee.

Composed of 21 members, the NQF Board provides organizational guidance on strategic and policy issues. Representatives include key public- and private-sector leaders who represent a wide range of major stakeholders in America’s healthcare system, including consumers and those who purchase healthcare on their behalf.

Other NQF Board members include:

  • Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH (Chair), America’s Essential Hospitals
  • James Chase, MHA (Vice Chair), Minnesota Community Measurement
  • Lawrence M. Becker (Treasurer), Xerox Corporation (retired)
  • Andrew B. Bindman, MD, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
    Designee: Nancy J. Wilson, MD, MPH
  • Carol Cronin, Informed Patient Institute
  • Leonardo Cuello, JD, National Health Law Program
  • Helen Darling, MA, National Quality Forum
  • Elizabeth Fowler, PhD, JD, Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, Inc.
  • Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Designee: Peter A. Briss, MD, MPH
  • William Kramer, Pacific Business Group on Health
  • James Macrae, MA, MPP, Health Resources & Services Administration
    Designee: Deborah Parham Hopson, PhD, RN
  • Carolyn Pare, Minnesota Health Action Group
  • Laurel Pickering, MPH, Northeast Business Group on Health
  • Louise Probst, St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition
  • Lewis Sandy, MD, UnitedHealth Group
  • David Shahian, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Quality and Safety
  • Andy Slavitt, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
    Designee: Kate Goodrich, MD
  • Kirsten Sloan, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network


Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lots of Movement in Memphis Fall 2016 Hospital Safety Grades

We saw quite a bit of movement in the fall 2016 Hospital Safety Grades (formerly Hospital Safety Score) for Memphis-area hospitals:

Several hospitals raised their scores:

  • Baptist Collierville moved from a C to a B
  • Baptist Desoto moved from a C to a B
  • Methodist Germantown moved from a C to a B
  • Regional One Health moved from a D to a C

Unfortuantely, Saint Francis Memphis moved down from an A to a B and Methodist University moved down from a B to a C.

Methodist Olive Branch received it's first grade and it was an A. They join Saint Francis Bartlett as our Memphis-area A hospitals.

Methodist Olive Branch A

Saint Francis Bartlett     A

Baptist Collierville           B

Baptist DeSoto                B

Methodist Germantown   B

Saint Francis Memphis   B

Baptist Memphis           C

Methodist North             C

Methodist South             C

Methodist University       C

Regional One Health      C








Check out for details on these scores as well as those for 2,633 hospitals

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How Might Health Reform Change Under President-Elect Trump?

If you are like me, you are now coming out from under the campaign and the election itself and beginning to think about the implications of the results for health reform and employer-sponsored health benefits.

Here are some articles that will help you begin to identify the key issues and strategies that are likely to emerge.

Obamacare Replacement Might Look Familiar, Kaiser Health News

Where President-Elect Donald J. Trump Stands on Six Healthcare Issues, Kaiser Family Foundation 

What Bipartisan Opportunities Will the Next Congress and President Have to Improve Health Policy, Health Affairs

Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump's Health Proposal (as of September 2016), Commonwealth Fund

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, November 10, 2016

MBGH Receives the National Alliance Member Leadership Award

WASHINGTON – Sept. 29, 2016 – The Memphis Business Group on Health received the Member Leadership Award at the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions* (National Alliance) annual conference. The recipient was recognized for their efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare delivery system and health of employees and communities.

(*Formerly the National Business Coalition on Health)

The Memphis Business Group on Health, under the leadership of CEO Cristie Upshaw Travis, has long played a critical role in encouraging and assisting Memphis-area employers to not only create a culture of health within their organizations, but to implement programs that will more broadly help the entire community. The coalition works with Tennessee hospitals, physicians, health plans, community and government leaders to drive healthcare delivery system reform.

MBGH sponsors the CEO Culture of Health initiative with 64 organizations in the Memphis-area currently participating and was a founding member of the Common Table Health Alliance (formerly Healthy Memphis Common Table) as well as Healthy Shelby. National efforts include Travis serving on the National Alliance board; as a board member and Regional Roll-out Leader for The Leapfrog Group, a hospital patient-safety organization; and co-chair of committees of the National Quality Forum, the multi-stakeholder, consensus-building organization that leads national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement.

“Memphis Business Group on Health is a proud member of the National Alliance, learning from our sister coalitions and helping where we can to share our experience and expertise to assist purchasers nationally,” said Travis. “We are honored to be recognized for our 31 years of work to create, support and sustain a culture of health at the workplace for our members and their families.”

The National Alliance’s Member Leadership Award is sponsored by Merck.

About the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions

The National Alliance is a nonprofit network of business health coalitions, representing more than 12,000 purchasers and 41 million Americans. Its members are dedicated to driving innovation, health and value through the collective action of public and private purchasers. The organization seeks to accelerate the nation’s progress toward safe, efficient, high-quality health care and the improved health status of the American population.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, October 6, 2016

See Why Cristie Thinks You Should Attend the August 18 Conference

Click here to learn more and register

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, July 12, 2016

MBGH 2016 Conference Update: More Breakout Sessions Announced

Click here to register for MBGH's August 18, 2016 Annual Conference "Rethink Employee Engagement to Drive Better Results". Early registration ends July 10 and prices increase July 11.

Three more breakout sessions will be offered at 10:45. Start thinking now about which one you will attend. They are all excellent and you can only attend one! 

ReThink: The Essential Role of Benefits Communication in Employee Engagement

Brandon Moore, Strategic Accounts Manager, Benz Communications

The evidence is clear that employees value their health benefits and these benefits contribute to employee recruitment, retention, and loyalty. In this session, learn how to develop and implement an employee communication strategy that reinforces the value of these benefits by communicating year-round; using multiple channels to reach employees; integrating data to identify key goals; and targeting messages to drive action.   

ReThink: Consumerism: Aligning Employees & Employers

Tom Parry, President, Integrated Benefits Institute

Many employers are moving to consumer directed health plans (CDHPs) to better manage costs of health benefit plans. However, decisions employees make in these plans impact not only health benefit costs, but also short-term and long-term disability and productivity. In this session, learn how to consider total cost; better understand how employees behave in CDHPs; and steps two employers have taken to maximize employee engagement and health improvements in their CDHPs.

ReThink: Health Care Providers are Engaging Patients Differently Too!

Representatives from Baptist Memorial Health Care, Methodist Healthcare, Regional One, Saint Francis Healthcare

For many of the same reasons employers are rethinking how they engage employees in their health and wellness programs, health care providers are also redesigning how they provide care and engage patients in their own health and health care. This session will highlight new delivery models being implemented by Baptist, Methodist, Regional One, and Saint Francis and the implications of these new approaches for your employee’s health and wellness and the effectiveness of your health benefit plans.

Learn about our Keynote Speakers here

Learn about our 9:30 Breakout Sessions here

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, July 5, 2016

MBGH 2016 Conference Update: First Three Breakout Sessions Announced!

Click here to register for our 2016 Wellness & Health Benefits Conference "Rethink Employee Engagement to Drive Better Results" on August 18, 2016!

You will get to attend one of the following 9:30 breakout sessions. Start thinking about it now because they are all excellent and it will be a tough choice!

ReThink: Full Engagement: Harnessing the Power of Participation

Barbara McClanahan, PhD, EdD, Associate Professor, University of Memphis Health Promotion Program

Employees are often the most powerful advantage an organization has. However, the expertise, talents, insights, and creativity brought by individuals is quickly lost if the employee is not fully engaged with the organization. This interactive, audience participation session highlights the importance of participatory management practices and offers specific strategies to enhance your employee engagement in health benefits and wellness programs.

ReThink: Putting the Power Where it Belongs: With Employees

Cameron Brackett, Executive Director, MidSouth eHealth Alliance

Dinesh Sheth, Founder & CEO, Green Circle Health

The health care delivery system, and many benefits programs, make it easy for employees to be passive participants because the “power” is vested in the providers and programs. Employees become reactive vs. proactive managers of their own health. This session explores how technology can put the employee in charge of their own health information to track it, improve it, and share it with whom they choose, moving them from passive participants to active managers of health.

ReThink: Personalized Support When Your Employees Need it Most

John Dyson, Director of Human Resources, Enterprise Health Care, FedEx Services

David Hines, CEO, Consumer Medical

One-size fits all benefit and wellness programs fail to recognize that employees have specific health needs at different times throughout their lives. Online decision-support and outbound care management and coaching are often designed to meet the broadest set of needs and, therefore, may not effectively engage employees. This session highlights the benefits of offering personalized support for your employees and the impact on costs, quality of care, and employee satisfaction. Federal Express will share why they decided to offer such a program and the difference it has made for their employees and their benefit program performance. 

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, June 13, 2016

Keynote Speakers Announced for MBGH 2016 Wellness & Health Benefit Conference

Click here to register now to come "Rethink Employee Engagement to Drive Better Results" and hear from these national experts on why you must rethink your approach and which strategies work to engage employees and reduce health benefit cost trend!

Shelly Wolff, Health and Workforce Effectiveness Leader and a senior consultant in Willis Towers Watson's New York City office, kicks off the conference addressing the very real disconnect between the health and wellness benefits employers offer and employee perspectives of these same benefits. As Shelly puts it, "While the hot-button issues of stress and obesity remain ever-present, the numerous programs and incentives designed to combat them have failed to effectively engage employees. Employers may find the key to making better progress hinges on looking at these programs through an employee’s eyes.” Shelly will shed light on how employees perceive these benefits and share suggested strategies to help you rethink how you select and implement programs to actually engage your employees.

Shelly, with Willis Towers Watson since 2003, provides thought leadership in global health and worker effectiveness and health and work performance research. including innovative engagement approaches that deliver optimal business value. Prior to joining Willis Towers Watson, she was Health and Productivity Leader for GE for 10 years.

Kim Stroud, Employee Benefits Manager for Manatee County, FL, our luncheon speaker, will share the story of how Manatee County has achieved a -2.3% health benefits trend since 2009. She will share the specific health benefit and wellness strategies they deployed that have resulted in employee engagement rates in the high 90%. Creative benefit designs, health plan and vendor collaborations, incentives, integrated clinical advocacy, and now an onsite clinic are just some of the pieces that have increased employee engagement and resulted in a negative trend. 

Kim has served as Employee Benefits Manager for the past 10 years and was previously the Director of Health and Lifestyle Management for almost six years. Her Masters in Human Development Counseling certainly prepared her to develop a comprehensive program built on engagement and the stages of change. She is a frequent national speaker on how Manatee County has achieved savings and improvements in health without cost shifting to employees.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, May 27, 2016

5 Things Employers Would Change About the ACA

Given a magic wand, employers would make signficiant changes to the ACA. Here are the top 5 changes, according to John Barkett of Willis Towers Watson:

  1. Eliminate the Cadillac Tax
  2. Approve the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act
  3. Keep pushing health care delivery system reforms --- and enforcing anti-trust rules
  4. End the employer mandate
  5. Adopt provisions that better address the root causes of the high-cost of health care 

Read John's article in Employee Benefit Adviser here.


Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, May 27, 2016

MBGH Among National Leaders Participating in CMS/AHIP Core Quality Measures Collaborative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), as part of a broad Core Quality Measures Collaborative of health care system participants, released seven sets of clinical quality measures on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 (

This first set of core measures, used as basis for quality-based payments, were developed by a new broad collaborative of health care system participants, including employers and consumers such as the Memphis Business Group on Health, Pacific Business Group on Health, National Partnership for Women and Families, AARP, and National Patient Advocate Foundation. The Collaborative also includes physician groups and professional organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American College of Physicians, American Gastroenterological Association, HIV Medicine Association, Infectious Diseases Society of America, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, CAPG, and the American Medical Association. Regional collaboratives such as the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality and Minnesota Community Measurement, are also participants in the Collaborative and have provided their input and recommendations.

The guiding principles used by the Collaborative in developing the core measure sets are that they be meaningful to patients, consumers, and physicians, while reducing variability in measure selection, collection burden, and cost. 

The goal is to establish broadly agreed upon core measure sets that could be harmonized across both commercial and government payers.The core measures are in the following seven sets:

  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs), and Primary Care
  • Cardiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • HIV and Hepatitis C
  • Medical Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Orthopedics

The Collaborative will continue to convene to monitor progress, invite broader participation, and add additional measures and measure sets.

Click here to see the selected measures.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Despite Delay in Excise Tax, Employers Continue to Explore Private Exchanges

From the National Business Coalition on Health: According to a survey of employers conducted by the Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC), 46% have implemented or are continuing to look at private health insurance exchanges to offer health benefits for their covered populations. 

Over the last few months PEEC has polled employers for a broad study on their views and intentions related to exchanges. A second shorter study was conducted in January to gauge strategies in light of the two-year delay in the implementation of the excise tax. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers whose health benefits cost more than $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families have to pay an excise or “Cadillac” tax of 40% on the amount above those figures. Prior to the extension of the excise tax implementation, employers were modeling whether their plans would hit the tax thresholds, and if so, when that would take place. Over 40% of employers expected to be exposed to the tax in 2018. 

"Overall, interest in private exchanges remains strong. This year’s results show interest is highest among small and mid-market employers, with 50% showing interest” says Barbara Gniewek, Principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). “Interestingly, these employers are thought to have the most to gain from a private exchange, but noted a lack of available information and education on the solutions. 36% of employers over 10,000 have or are considering private exchanges.” 

Key findings 

  • When asked if they would consider using a private exchange for full-time active employees before 2019, 6% of employers responded they have contracted with an exchange, the same percent as in 2014 and somewhat fewer (40% versus 41%) indicated they are still considering this strategy. 
  • Over half of employers (53%) agreed that if an industry peer moved to a private exchange they would be more likely to do so. 
  • The rate of employers considering the public exchange for full-time active employees did not change year over year (16% in 2014 and 2015). 
  • Key attributes considered when evaluating private exchanges have remained stable from 2014 to 2015, with high priority placed on cost of moving to an exchange, customer experience, and networks available from the exchange plans. 
  • Almost half of early adopters of exchanges said they were able to save money. 
  • Company size is a determining factor in whether or not a company will consider a private exchange, with greater interest from small and mid-sized firms than larger ones. 
  • While over 60% of employers anticipate the excise tax will be repealed, employers continue to aggressively look at ways to reduce their exposure to the tax law. 

An executive summary of the findings along with additional details can be accessed here

 “Employers are more invested than ever in the value of their health care dollar,” said Larry Boress, president and CEO of the Midwest Business Group on Health. “Motivated by high medical care costs and their potential exposure to the ACA's excise tax, interest remains high among health care purchasers in exploring the potential value of private exchanges and other strategies to reduce their exposure to the tax. Many are focused on improving employee engagement through a suite of tools and services that will ultimately enhance the health of their population.” 

 Survey details 

These results come from two online surveys of employers’ views on health insurance exchanges conducted in November 2015 and January 2016. More than 350 employers (28% had less than 500 employees, 21% had 500 – 2,499 employees, 23% had 2,500 – 9,999 employees, and 28% had over 10,000 employees) from 34 different industries across the nation participated in the November survey. PEEC also surveyed 129 employers in January 2016 after the delay in the excise tax implementation was announced, to understand how this delay may have changed their views or intentions related to private exchange and other benefit and worksite activities. 

About the Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC)

The Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) is an initiative launched in 2013 by four leading nonprofit business coalitions, Employers Health Coalition, Inc. (Ohio), Midwest Business Group on Health, Northeast Business Group on Health, and the Pacific Business Group on Health – all independent coalitions representing employer health care interests –and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) (not an exchange provider). PEEC will solicit and provide unbiased, comparative information and support on private exchange strategies and purchasing decisions.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Is There a Link Between Worker Health, Stock Price?

According to three new peer-reviewed studies released in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, there is growing evidence that the health and well-being of an organization is one component of a high-performing, well-managed organization.

An article in Employee Benefit News notes that  "The studies examined the change in stock prices for three portfolios of employers after they won awards for their employee wellness programs or self-scored themselves as having a comprehensive program. In all three cases, award winners and those with high scores outperformed the S&P index, at rates ranging from seven percent to 16% per year."

You can read the complete article here.

MBGH's CEO Culture of Health program, in support of Healthy Shelby, provides employers the framework to build a strong foundation of health and well-being and can contribute to meeting this component of a high-performing organization. Email Cristie Upshaw Travis if you are interested in learning more about this program, which includes technical assistance to help you with easy-to-implement strategies and get you off to the right start.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Learn What Works for Worksite Wellness Programs in Memphis

A special learning and networking session only for MBGH members and participants in our CEO Culture of Health program on April 26, 2016.

MBGH knows that you want to learn from each other what works in worksite wellness programs and how you made it work. 

Knowing what works right here in Memphis and Shelby County will give you confidence to consider similar programs and you will have someone you can contact to get more information, advice, and to share back your experience.

MBGH invites all of our members (and 2016 Annual Conference sponsors at the Supporter level and above) as well as participants in our CEO Culture of Health program to:

(1) Plan to attend our networking and learning session on April 26, 2016 at 10:00 at Rhodes College. Registration will be open soon. In this session, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, we will highlight examples of successful programs  in the greater-Memphis area and have plenty of time for sharing and discussion. Plan to stay for our 2016 Annual Awards Luncheon immediately after the session at Rhodes(11:15-1:30). We will be recognizing all CEO Culture of Health participants that met our requirements in 2015. Registration is complimentary to both events.

(2) Submit an example of a successful program or event you have implemented. We will compile the examples and give them to you. If no one shares their programs, there is no way to learn from others, so please submit! No program or event is too small. We all need new ideas for effective programming. Click here to download additional information. Deadline for submission is February 29, 2016.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Employers Get Ready for "It's Quittin' Time in Tennessee"

February 22-26 is "It's Quittin' Time in Tennessee" week, a statewide campaign to promote awareness of and resources for quitting smoking. Click here to download the graphic and use it in your communications to show your employees this is a community-wide campaign!

The evidence is clear why employers should care:

  • Quitting smoking saves lives, improves health and reduces health care costs.
  • Reducing workforce smoking rates improves employee health, increases productivity and saves dollars.
  • Reducing tobacco use rates promotes healthy communities from which you pull your employees.
  • There are resources available to help: Tennessee Quitline, local quit programs and health provider interventions

Frame this week as a kickoff to a campaign around tobacco cessation and plan to celebrate those that quit at the Great American Smokeout in November!

Here are some easy to implement suggestions, and resources, but be creative! We will post more specific "It's Quittin' Time In Tennessee" material as we get closer.

Be sure your employees know the benefits you offer them! This is a great week to highlight all the insurance benefits and tobacco and smoking programs you offer.

Consider a daily employee communication that week. You may want to take a page each day from 10 Things You Should Know About Quitting Smoking or Plan to Quit Cards 

Offer, or announce upcoming, smoking cessation classes. Did you know the Shelby County Health Department offers the highly successful and evidence-based American Lung Association's Freedom from Smoking classes free? (Note: this link is for Colorado but does an excellent job outlining the program and it's success)  Contact Courtney Tipper at (901) 222-9274 or [email protected] for more information.

Here are some general resources you will find helpful:

Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Hospital Safety Scores Released for Memphis Hospitals

The latest Hospital Safety Scores for Memphis-area hospitals are out! 

Results of interest include:  

  • The Regional One Health Center continued on it's improvement path with its grade moving up to a C.
  • The Methodist hospitals realized downgrades in their scores. Methodist University moved down to a B. Methodist Germantown, North and South moved down to a C. 
  • Congratulations to Saint Francis-Memphis for achieving Straight A's in all of the releases of the Hospital Safety Score since 2012.

The rest of the scores remained the same as in Spring 2015. 

Saint Francis - Memphis   A   Methodist - University    B   Baptist - Collierville            C
Saint Francis - Bartlett      A     Baptist- DeSoto                 C
     Baptist - Memphis             C
     Methodist - Germantown  C
     Methodist - North              C
     Methodist - South             C
     Regional One Health        C

Check out the full scores for these hospitals, as well as 2,520 other hospitals across the country, at You can also see the past scores for these hospitals by selecting "Show Past Grades".

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, October 29, 2015

C-Sections Too Common in Memphis

Methodist-Olive Branch and Saint Francis-Bartlett are the only Memphis-area hospitals to fully meet the Leapfrog Group's C-section standard of no more than 23.9% of births. Other reported rates for Memphis-area hospitals ranged from 27.0% at the Regional Medical Center to 37.5% at Methodist-Germantown.

 HospitalC-Section Rate 
Methodist-Olive Branch
Saint Francis-Bartlett
Regional Medical Center
Saint Francis-Memphis

Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and Baptist-DeSoto did not report C-section rates due to a mid-year change in data collection systems which resulted in 12-months of data not being available.

Tennessee ranked 24th in the nation with an average C-section rate of 28.3%.

Using C-section data reported by 1,122 hospitals through the voluntary 2015 Leapfrog Hospital Survey, Leapfrog found that, nationally, over 60% of reporting hospitals had excessive rates of C-sections. 

These results mean that far too many women in Memphis, Tennessee, and the U.S. are undergoing a major abdominal surgery without medical necessity.

Cesarean sections carry serious risks of infection or blood clots, and many women experience longer recoveries and difficulty with future pregnancies. C-sections can also cause problems for babies, like breathing difficulties that need treatment in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU). In the long-term, research shows that C-sections can cause chronic pelvic pain in some women, and babies born by C-section are at increased risk of developing chronic childhood diseases like asthma and diabetes.

“This is really about how well we, as doctors, nurses, midwives, and hospitals, support labor,” said Elliott Main, M.D., chair of Leapfrog’s Maternity Care Expert Panel and medical director of Stanford’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. “Hospital staff that support labor appropriately and are sensitive to families’ birth plans are shown to have lower C-section rates overall. If we want to improve this rate across the board, then hospitals must hold themselves to this standard to ensure safe short- and long-term outcomes for both mom and baby.”

Click here to:

  • Read more about the methodology used to determine C-section rates
  • Provide your employees with information to help them avoid C-sections except when medically needed
  • Learn more about how providers and policy makers can help reduce unnecessary C-sections
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, October 12, 2015

New York Times Editorial Calls for Reduced Cost of Hep C Drugs

This New York Times (NYT) editorial lays out the tension in the current debate over the very expensive (@$84,000/treatment un-discounted) Hepatitis C drugs: broad coverage that will significantly increase health plan costs or restricted coverage to keep costs under control but that will not benefit as many patients.

In the end, the NYT points out that manufacturers generally pay what the market will bear so calls for public and private insurers to push for lower pricing, which can support providing these drugs to more people.

MBGH is kicking off a specialty pharmacy management initiative for members which addresses this very issue. The initiative provides hands-on training, data analysis and, most importantly, technical assistance and consulting, that employers need to actually achieve cost savings in specialty spend while still making these drugs accessible to their employees and families. Contact Cristie Travis at [email protected] for more information.

Read the editorial

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

First: Doctor Visits on Demand; Now: Medications Delivered to Your Doorstep

Health care innovators in New York City prove, once again, that where there is a need, entrepreneurs will step in to fill it.

This time Pager, a doctor-on-demand company, is teaming up with Zipdrug to have prescriptions delivered to a patient's home or office, often within one hour.

Customers can track the Zipdrug delivery status on their cell phones and pay the cost of the drug plus a $10 delivery fee.

Pager sends Board-certified physicians to homes and offices within 2 hours of a patient's request for urgent care needs. Currently they offer services in New York City and San Francisco. Read more about Pager.

Read the full article

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

More Potential Twists on the Cadillac Tax

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar's September 1, 2015 AP post details the Treasury Department's current thinking about the Cadillac Tax: 

"— The Treasury Department says it is considering an exemption for flexible spending account contributions for dental and vision care, which are two popular uses.The health care law already limited FSA contributions and without such accommodations, the Cadillac tax could lead to their demise.

"A benefit that you are offering your employees so they can save money on taxes is going to wind up costing you money," said economist Paul Fronstin of nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute.

— Treasury is also trying to figure what do about a different kind of workplace arrangement called a "health savings account."

A growing number of workers have high-deductible health insurance that comes with tax-sheltered health savings accounts, or HSAs, that they and their employer can contribute to. But if an employee has his or her contribution deducted from their paycheck, it could potentially trigger the tax.

Officials say they're considering options."

The article also provides perspectives on the potential demise of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). See related blog post here.

Read the full article here.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

Uninsured Rate Decreases to 9.2% in First Quarter 2015

According to a Dan Mangan September 1, 2015 blog post for CNBC:

"In the first three months of 2015, the CDC said, the rate of people without health insurance stood at 9.2 percent. That's down from 11.5 percent in the same period in 2014, and represents a 20 percent reduction in the uninsured rate over the past year.In absolute numbers, 29 million people lacked health insurance in early 2015, compared with 36 million people in 2014. That number reached a high 48.6 million in 2010, the year the ACA was signed into law by President Barack Obama."

"The CDC's report is the latest survey that strongly suggests the ACA is behind a marked decrease in the uninsured rate in the U.S., as well as declines in the number of people who have difficulty accessing and paying for care."

Read more about how this decrease occurred

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fewer People Skipping Medical Care for Cost Reasons

According to the September 1, 2015 Amy Goldstein article in the Washington Post:

"During the first three months of the year, just 1 in 20 Americans said they did not get medical care they needed because they could not afford it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The findings, from the federal National Health Interview Survey, show that 4.4 percent of people interviewed from January through March said they had skipped medical care in the previous year because of its cost -- the lowest percentage in 16 years. The percent skipping care for cost reasons had reached nearly 7 percent in 2009 and 2010 and has been shrinking since then.

The survey, conducted with people of all ages, does not explain the reason why fewer people are avoiding treatment because of its cost, but the improvement coincides with two big changes: Health insurance has become more common under the Affordable Care Act as government exchanges began nearly two years ago to sell private insurance policies for people who cannot get coverage through a job and as Medicaid for low-income people expanded in some states. At the same time, the economy has been recovering from the Great Recession of 2008-09, so more people are working.The new CDC estimates provide the latest evidence of a significant lessening of  the ranks of Americans who are uninsured: 29 million Americans said they lacked health insurance coverage, 7 million fewer than in 2014."

Read the full article here.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

Isn't It Time That The Impact on Patients Be the Major Concern?

When exactly did we cross the threshold where we became more concerned about the financial impact on hospitals and doctors than on the health, and sometimes, actual lives of patients?

Why do commentaries, such as this one, which call out the shame of not righting this wrong in New York state, still include an argument that expanding laws allowing malpractice claims are likely to only result in a minimal increase in actual claims?

To give the author's credit, they make many of the right points:

  • Hospitals and doctors are doing a poor job of policing themselves, so malpractice laws that support patients are needed
  • Hospitals should do a better job of focusing on patient safety
  • Patients should not be limited to what they can collect 
  • Don't make it more difficult for patients to even get their case heard
  • Hold top hospital administrators accountable for negligence in their facilities
  • And, their final statement, " But as long as hospitals and doctors block legislation and fight regulation, patients will remain in peril."

I just feel that they should have left the financial discussion out because, by putting it in, they unintentionally support the flawed argument of the hospital and physician lobby that blocked "Laven's Law" from passing in New York. This is a moral issue, not a financial one.

Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO, Memphis Business Group on Health

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

Narrow Networks Can Result in "Surprise" Bills for Patients and Employers

We've all heard the stories, or even experienced it ourselves, about finding out after-the-fact that the anesthesiologist used during surgery was out-of-network and, therefore, the patient and employer owe a lot more for those services that expected. This happens even though the hospital is in-network.

This situation is becoming even more frequent due to the expanded number of narrow-networks put in place with the advent of the Marketplace (aka public health insurance exchange) and in the growing number of employers offering narrow networks as a cost-reduction strategy.

And anesthesiology isn't the only specialty where this can happen. Emergency room physicians, pathologists, radiologists, specialists, and hospitalists are just examples of other, hospital-contracted physicians, that may not be in-network.

Although many insurance companies and self-insured employers have taken steps to protect the patient from the balance billing, the higher out-of-network costs (then picked up by the insurance company or employer) still accrue and add to the increasing high cost of care and therefore premiums.

For employers: What do you do to protect yourself, as well as your employees and their families, from this type of balance billing? How do you hold your health plan or hospitals accountable for having contracted physicians in the networks they accept?

Read more.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

New, Very Expensive Treatments for Cholesterol Approved

NOTE: MBGH's new, specialty pharmacy management program for members is exactly what employers need to make the tough decisions around how to manage the costs of the new, very expensive treatments for high cholesterol, while still getting this treatment to those that need it. Contact Cristie at [email protected] to learn more.

Two drugs in a new class of cholesterol-lowering treatments have now been approved by the FDA --  Praluent, made by Sanofi Regeneron and approved last month, which costs $14,600 a year, and Repatha, made by Amgen and approved last Thursday, at $14,100 a year. Typically, patients that can't tolerate statins, the most prescribed drug class for the treatment of high cholesterol at a cost of only pennies per day, are candidates for the new drugs. Like statins, the new drugs are taken for the rest of a patient's life, resulting in well over 6 figure cost of treatment.

Read this article in the New York Times to get an understanding for the dilemma patients, physicians, insurance companies, and self-insured employers are facing regarding use of these new drugs.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

Flexible Spending Accounts May Disappear

Richard Stover, an actuary with Buck Consultants, predicts that Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) will be the first to go if the Cadillac Tax moves forward as planned.

FSAs allow employees to save their own money, pre-tax, to pay for various health-related expenses including co-pays and deductible, eye glasses, and more. According to Stover, eliminating FSAs may be the most obvious way the Cadillac Tax impacts the middle class.

The Cadillac Tax, which taxes the amount of benefits over $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families beginning in 2018, is expected to apply to traditional health insurance, supplemental health insurance plans, flexible spending accounts and, potentially, worksite clinics. 

In his August 31, 2015 article in Politico. author Brian Failer points out that "The Cadillac tax will cap for the first time the open-ended tax break employers receive for providing their workers with health benefits. Economists love the tax because they say that break is a big reason for rising health care costs. Overly generous insurance coverage shields beneficiaries from having to worry about the cost of their care, they say, which encourages them to use more services, which drives up prices.But the tax is quickly becoming one of Obamacare’s least popular components, and businesses and unions alike are demanding lawmakers scrap it before it takes effect."

Repeal of the Cadillac Tax is being pushed for from many fronts, but is not expected to happen during the Obama administration. Both Clinton and Sanders have signaled willingness to reconsider it if elected.

In the meantime, employers are already taking steps to avoid the tax and it is doubtful that they will reinstate many of these changes if the tax is repealed.

Read more here.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

Memphis Restaurants Receive Eat REAL Tennessee Recognition

Through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC), Eat REAL™ Tennessee has announced the first REAL Certified establishments in Memphis.

Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a growing national program that helps combat diet-related disease by recognizing foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship. 

MBGH encourages all employers to share this list of restaurants with your employees and their families so they can eat healthy outside of work too! Click here to see the list and learn more about the restaurants and share the link with your colleagues.

Memphis’s inaugural class of REAL Certified foodservice establishments can be found throughout the city and include: 

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen     
Cafe Eclectic
City Market 
The Farmer
Fuel Cafe
Hog & Hominy
Lettuce Eat Salad Co.
Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe     
Trolley Stop Market
Two Vegan Sistas

“Memphis is a city rich in local food culture and community, and these eating establishments are helping shift the environment towards a more healthful and sustainable model,” said Eat REAL Tennessee Project Manager Nikkole Turner.   

Eat REAL Tennessee is a statewide initiative supported through a grant from the Tennessee Health Department as part of an innovative approach to preventing diabetes and obesity across the state. The program also serves as a community outreach platform, engaging and educating the public on nutrition and healthy dietary choices.   

Utilizing the points-based REAL Index, independent registered dietitians conduct an assessment of menu offerings and overall nutrition and sustainability practices. Establishments are credited with points across a range of criteria such as the use of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy preparation methods, moderate portion sizes, unsweetened beverages, healthy children’s options and sustainable sourcing. Those that satisfy the necessary requirements are awarded and recognized as REAL Certified.    

The USHFC has partnered with the Memphis Business Group on Health (MBGH) and certified its annual awards luncheon this year at Rhodes College. “We were able to offer our awardees a healthy and locally sourced meal in support of our mission and that of the USHFC’s,” said Cristie Travis, Chief Executive Officer of the MBGH.    

All REAL Certified establishments are featured on and promoted through the USHFC’s local partners to help identify “better for you” dining options. The USHFC is partnering with FITKids, a program of the University of Memphis, to help Memphians find healthy family friendly dining establishments through its website and mobile app.   “Shelby County Government is very excited to be working with Eat REAL Tennessee to provide healthier options to our employees and encourage better nutritional choices,” said Shelby County Deputy Administrator Brenda Greene.   

The newly certified Memphis establishments mark an expansion of REAL Certified, which launched with a restaurant campaign in Washington, DC, two years ago and has since grown to include restaurants, workplace dining facilities and public venues in 28 states.    

ABOUT THE UNITED STATES HEALTHFUL FOOD COUNCIL (USHFC) Established in 2011, the USHFC is a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit, dedicated to fighting diet-related disease by realigning the food industry’s incentives with consumers’ health interests. The USHFC works towards its mission through the REAL Certified holistic nutrition and sustainability certification program. REAL Certified foodservice operators must satisfy prerequisites and earn sufficient points in the areas of Responsible (nutrition), Epicurean (preparation), Agricultural (sourcing) and Leadership (going above and beyond). More information can be found at and 

Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, June 22, 2015

Telemedicine Expansion Gets Boost from Walgreens, United, Anthem

According to Modern Healthcare, Walgreens plans to reach about half the country with computer based telemedicine programs (also adapted for tablet, smart phones) by December 31, 2015. This announcement falls on the heals of plans announced by Anthem and United to expand their telemedicine services to more than 40 million by next year.

The American Telemedicine Association estimates that 450,000 Americans had telemedicine visits last year for primary care and although that number is only a small portion of the total 15 million people that access telemedicine, it has doubled in the past two years.

Read the Modern Healthcare article here.

The potential impact on health care costs is clear when you realize that the average cost of a telemedicine visit is $39 compared to a physician visit at $120 and ER visit of $499.

Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015

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