Health Experts: Employers Must Take Larger Role to Rein in Rising Drug Costs

Overall health care costs for businesses continue to rise at an unsustainable rate and one of the main drivers is the proliferation of specialty drugs, high-cost medications that treat complex conditions. To address this concern, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s HealthForward initiative convened 28 regional health care purchasers to discuss the impact of these drugs on their health care spend and strategies to ease the financial burden.

Cheryl Larson, vice president of the Midwest Business Group on Health, and Randy Vogenberg, principal for the Institute for Integrated Healthcare, offered insight on how some forward-thinking health purchasers are proactively negotiating the price of medication to ensure specialty drugs are getting to patients who need them. The speakers urged attendees to reach out to their pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) and health plans to take a closer look at their contracts and have a dialogue on potential savings for specialty drugs.

Attendees also had the opportunity to share their concerns and strategies for dealing with the increase in specialty drug costs and the pipeline of new drugs that will hit the market in the coming year. This was the fourth educational installment for HealthForward’s cost and access programming, which is focused on supporting regional employers and their employees in navigating the health care system.

For more information on HealthForward, contact Jonathan So.


Detroit’s Next Opportunity: A Premier Destination for Health Care Innovation, Investment

With high-quality hospitals, world-renowned programs and nationally recognized research universities and medical schools, the Detroit region is a premier location for innovators, investors and entrepreneurs who want to lead the health care industry. But unfortunately, it remains a hidden jewel.

Promoting that message to industry leaders across the state and country has been a key focus of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s HealthForward initiative this year.

“Despite Southeast Michigan’s robust health care ecosystem, it has not achieved recognition as a national destination for health or a hub of health care innovation and jobs,” said Roy Lamphier, the Chamber’s vice president of health care and business solutions.

Changing that narrative, Lamphier said, builds on the Chamber’s Forward Detroit economic development strategy to sustain Southeast Michigan as one of the fastest growing regions in the country.

“It’s about getting the message out there among professional health care players — hospitals, suppliers, insurers and providers — as well as entrepreneurs — about why Detroit can be a player in the new health economy,” Lamphier said. “Subsequently, that will help attract more talent, investment and jobs for the region.”

To do that, Lamphier said the Chamber has already begun meeting with health care stakeholders to craft the region’s story. He said plans are also underway to convene regional CEOs and C-suite leaders to define the health care story.

“The Chamber is in a position where we touch a large cross-section of the health care industry. Bringing these key players together to think about the future and craft the message we want to tell the rest of the world is in our collective interest,” Lamphier said.

But it is only one piece of the puzzle.

Detroit also ranks at the bottom 20th percentile nationwide in the overall health and wellbeing of its workforce, impacting the competitiveness of the region.

Building on its longtime effort to educate employers on ways to lower costs on care, the Chamber is going a step further by working with business and health leaders to craft a placemaking strategy focused on projects, programs and policies to support healthy communities.

“We’re not focused on creating capacity and adding cost to the system,” Lamphier said. “We want to determine the business agenda on health and tie that agenda to leadership action,” Lamphier said.

Recently, the Chamber partnered with Crain’s Detroit Business for a Health Care Leaders Dinner (pictured) featuring 40 academic, government, health and civic leaders to identify areas where the business community can make an impact on a recurring basis.

“Our end goal is to help businesses make investments that raise the health and well-being of the region’s workforce,” Lamphier said. “The more money we pour into treating sickness is money that could have gone into wages and investment. We need to start investing upstream to get ahead of the curve.”

By both marketing the region’s health care assets and taking steps toward creating a healthy workforce, Lamphier said  Southeast Michigan can craft a vibrant health ecosystem attractive to investment and talent in the 21st century.

For more information on how to get involved with HealthForward, contact Roy Lamphier at, or 313.596.0381. For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at, or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

HealthForward Event Focused on Bridging the Gaps Between Purchasers and Providers

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s HealthForward initiative hosted its third and final educational event for 2016. HealthForward’s Employer-Provider Collaborations Luncheon, held on Wednesday, Nov. 9 in partnership with the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), focused on bridging the gaps between purchasers and providers of health care and find common goals, metrics, and processes. Attendees included representatives from large self-funded purchasers, hospital and provider executives, and other key health care stakeholders.

Ray Fabius, co-founder and president of HealthNEXT, delivered a keynote address that provided insight into what other parts of the country are doing to achieve population health for patients. He also outlined the need to focus efforts on preventing and managing chronic disease, as well as stakeholders working together to encourage healthy behaviors.

In the following session, a panel of hospital and physician group executives provided insight into what their organization is doing to drive fee-for-value health services, including greater coordination of care, more efficient processes and new payment models. The final panel represented other stakeholders in health including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Mercer. This group discussed how their organizations are assisting the transitions and drive to fee-for-value as well as greater population health outcomes.

This intimate luncheon provided a strong kickoff to the Chamber’s 2017 goal of convening various health stakeholders to enhance the health of the workforce in metro Detroit and make the region more competitive.