Deb Krause, vice president, Minnesota Health Action Group

Deb Krause, recently hired as vice president of the Minnesota Health Action Group, is overseeing the organization's Minnesota Bridges to Excellence program, which rewards clinics that provide optimal patient care.

The Action Group, a Bloomington-based coalition of public and private employers, describes itself as the only Minnesota organization with the sole purpose of representing employers, public purchasers and individuals who pay for health care.

The Action Group last year awarded more than $1.5 million to 437 Minnesota and border state clinics under the Bridges to Excellence Program and the Minnesota Quality Incentive Payment System, a state pay-for-performance program that the Action Group administers.

The program in July is to announce clinics it is recognizing this year for achieving optimal care measures or improving specific outcomes for patients with diabetes, vascular disease and depression, known as primary drivers of health care costs.

"The organization prides itself on transparency and the simplicity of the program and the fact that we know it's delivering results," Krause said.

Krause most recently was a principal at Mercer, providing strategic guidance to employers on benefit plan designs. She previously was director of social responsibility at UnitedHealth Group. She has been a volunteer leader with nonprofit organizations for 25 years and is the chair of the American Cancer Society's Minnesota State Leadership Board.

Krause has a degree in business administration from Valparaiso University and an MBA in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Q: What drew you to the Action Group?

A: I think of it as a Venn diagram. The first circle is my experience in health care and benefits consulting. The second is my nonprofit board experience. The third is my experience in corporate social responsibility that was focused on chronic disease prevention. The Action Group is like the sweet spot in the middle.

Q: How has health care reform affected the Action Group?

A: The whole idea of shifting from volume to value is in sync with what the Action Group is doing. … The true opportunity is bringing together the public and private sectors to make a difference and really improve health care.

Q: Why should an employer join the Action Group?

A: No. 1 is the opportunity to be part of a movement to build a better health care system. The second reason is to benefit from professional development and networking opportunities. The third is that employers get involved with the Action Group to get results, to help shift the focus from volume to value.

Todd Nelson