HealthPartners, Allina collaboration reduces care costs

An experimental partnership between two Twin Cities rivals appears to be holding down health care costs.

About two years ago, HealthPartners and Allina Hospitals and Clinics created a program to improve care and reduce costs for 27,000 patients in the northwest metro area.

HealthPartners' Brian Rank said the collaboration helped slow the growth in health spending for the group to less than 1 percent last year. That's about half what HealthPartners saw in the Twin Cities market overall. Rank says the strategies include more attention to patients who take multiple medications and using lower-cost generic drugs when possible.

"We knew that generic use was lower up there and that it's now, we've worked hard in both of our clinics to increase the use of generics."

Allina and HealthPartners call the collaboration a "learning lab" for the Accountable Care Organization envisioned under the federal health care law.

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