The Stew BLOG

Six Communities Ready, and Able, to Take the (Transformation) Plunge

Jane Erickson, Project Director | 02/03/2017

For many years, our nation’s leaders have grappled with how to promote health and solve our healthcare crisis. Long before the Affordable Care Act was passed, and regardless of what happens to it, people working on health issues in communities across the country recognized that their health systems were in need of fundamental transformation. They saw that healthy foods were nowhere to be found in low-income neighborhoods, which meant anyone without transportation had few options. They noticed expectant mothers were not receiving adequate prenatal care and suspected that cost was keeping them from regular visits to the clinic. They suspected that health coaching would reduce some of the consequences of diabetes, but without a proof of concept the funding wasn’t available. Community leaders could read the writing on the wall: their health systems were failing and that they needed to find new partners if they were going to accomplish the kind of change needed.

In many areas, leaders found allies from diverse sectors and institutions to problem-solve. In Trenton, New Jersey, for example, the Trenton Health Team formed nearly a decade ago in response to the mayor’s call to improve the city’s health status and increase access to health services. Around the same time, on the other side of the country, Health Action was created in Sonoma County, California, to improve health and achieve equity for Sonoma County residents.

The Trenton Health Team and Health Action are two examples of innovative and ambitious multi-sector partnerships that are already well on their way to transforming their health ecosystems to be more inclusive and interdependent. They join four other partnerships—some well-established, others just emerging—in ReThink Health’s Ventures.

Over two years, Ventures will provide training, in-depth coaching, and the support needed to help these ambitious partnerships go further, faster in truly transforming their health ecosystems. Learn a bit about the communities we’ll be working with, and then sign up to receive updates over the course of the project:

Bernalillo County, NM

The Bernalillo County Community Health Council plays a lead role in coordinating essential public health activities in the county, acting as a central facilitator. The Health Council connects and supports organizations and individuals working on health issues, and also coordinates county-wide assessment and planning efforts. The Ventures project is strengthening collaboration among the Health Council and a range of stakeholders, including the state’s only academic health center, the state’s largest private employer which is also a not-for-profit healthcare system serving one in three state residents, county government officials, and more.

Sonoma County, CA

For close to a decade, Health Action has worked tirelessly to improve health and achieve equity in a region with vast disparities. Health Action relies on the collaboration of a diverse array of players, including the major healthcare systems, local businesses, education, media, philanthropy, local government, elected officials, community residents, and faith institutions, with backbone support provided by the Department of Health Services. The partnership will work with the Ventures team as it develops its next Action Plan to position its near-term planning efforts within a long-term system change strategy for the county.

Central Oregon

The Central Oregon Health Council (COHC) was established through bipartisan legislation passed by the State Legislature in 2011. It serves an important role in facilitating collaboration, regional planning, and community governance across three Central Oregon counties to improve population health and coordinate health care services. The Health Council carries forward its mission in two critical ways: at the community level, leading work on social determinants of health, provider engagement, sustainable financing, and quality improvement; and also acting as the community governing board for the region’s Coordinated Care Organization, one of 16 across the state.

King County, WA

In 2013, the government of King County, Washington, committed to improving the health and well-being of its residents, developed its Health and Human Services Transformation Plan, which focuses on improving the conditions that affect where individuals live, work, and play. The Plan supports a range of cross-sector programs that address issues such as incarceration and recidivism, behavioral health integration, economic opportunity, and community-owned solutions. Simultaneously, a cross-sector partnership that includes the county has been establishing one of nine regional Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) that cover the entire state. Ventures will support the King County ACH and county as a whole in its effort to reshape the way health and social services are managed.

Finger Lakes Region, NY

The Finger Lakes region of New York, a multi-county area that includes the city of Rochester, has been adept at identifying and building promising partnerships to improve health care and community health, resulting in significant shifts in healthcare costs and outcomes, as well as broader community collaboration. The Ventures project will help to catalyze connections among six organizations already active in the Finger Lakes: the Finger Lakes Health System Agency, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s health care planning team, the United Way of Greater Rochester, the Rochester RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization), the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System—a network of 19 hospitals, and more than 600 healthcare and community-based organizations—and the Monroe County Department of Public Health.

Trenton, NJ

The Trenton Health Team is a collaboration among the region’s major medical centers, St. Francis Medical Center, Capital Health, Henry J. Austin Health Center, and the city’s Department of Health and Human Services. Together with a broad range of community organizations, the partnership is focused on improving the community’s health and reforming how health care is delivered, including robust community health assessment and planning efforts, expansion of access to primary care, improved care coordination and care management, and greater community engagement. Through its work with Ventures, it plans to expand stakeholder engagement, articulate the value proposition for health system transformation, and apply lessons learned from the Medicaid population to the greater Trenton community.