As published in Toledo Business Journal - December 1, 2014
A large audience of healthcare and business leaders gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in November for the inaugural Healthcare Summit. Attendees traveled from every county in the region to participate in this session. The event was co-hosted by Healthcare Heroes and the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.
Volunteers from the sponsor organizations worked for the past year to organize this event. The sponsors include Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD; Hylant; Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP; TechSolve; and Fostering Healthy Communities, a coalition of several area healthcare organizations (Mercy, ProMedica, and University of Toledo Medical Center). The media partner for the event was Toledo Business Journal.
The session was titled, “Collective Impact for Healthy Communities.”
The event included a full schedule of presentations and panels. Several presentations provided by staff members at the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio were provided to share resources and tools with attendees. An important objective of the session was to assist professionals from around the region in advancing their organizations with additional resources and support.
In addition, presenters and panelists were chosen from around the region to share best practices. While many of the counties are working to address some of the same difficult healthcare issues, the session was organized to let participants see practices in selected counties that might serve as a model for other counties in the region.
The event included a luncheon that was emceed by Kristian Brown from WTVG 13abc. The keynote luncheon speaker was Dr. Clinton Longenecker from the College of Business and Innovation at the University of Toledo.
Jan Ruma, vice president of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, opened the session. Her opening remarks explain the development of this initiative and the role that collaboration will have to play in solving difficult healthcare issues that face communities around the region.
Jan Ruma, vice president, Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio addresses the Healthcare Summit
You may be wondering what you are in for today. What is Healthcare Heroes? And what is collective impact?
Well, until this year, the Healthcare Heroes program has been known for recognizing healthcare professionals who are called on to serve others in ways that change lives and greatly improve the communities where we live. Since 2009, 25% exceptional individuals have been named Healthcare Heroes and many more have been honored as candidates.
After the fifth Healthcare Heroes recognition program in 2013, it was obvious that the healthcare landscape was rapidly changing and individual Healthcare Heroes, no matter how amazing, could not create healthy communities alone. To create healthy communities, it is going to take every sector of a community working in partnership to create healthier environments where we live, work, and play. So, the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, along with the sponsors of Healthcare Heroes … decided to expand their efforts to focus not only on the amazing efforts of individuals to improve the health of the community, but also to serve as a catalyst to encourage and recognize multi-sectorial efforts designed to create healthier communities. So the concept, the Healthcare Heroes Summit, was created: “Collective Impact for Healthy Communities.”
So what is collective impact? The concept of collective impact was first articulated in the 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review. Collective impact was chosen as the #2 philanthropy buzzword for 2011, and has been recognized by the White House Council for Community Solutions as an important framework for progress on social issues.
Collective impact is what we have begun to create in our region without even knowing it. You could call collective impact the latest flavor of the month … the new buzz word. But for those of us that have been trying to figure out how to collaborate for years to improve health status, the concept of collective impact really resonates … it is the reason for all of our long meetings, late nights, grant proposals, and community health assessments.
The concept of collective impact hinges on the idea that in order for organizations to create lasting solutions to social problems on a large-scale, they need to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal. The approach of collective impact is placed in contrast to ‘isolated impact,’ where organizations primarily work alone to solve social problems. Collective impact moves away from individual organizations doing good in isolation and moves toward organizations forming cross-sector coalitions in order to make meaningful and sustainable progress on social issues.
Initiatives must meet five criteria in order to be considered collective impact:
The Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio began serving in many of these roles over the last 17 years as we have worked to implement our mission to provide collaborative opportunities to enhance the health status of the citizens of northwest Ohio. The Hospital Council’s role as a backbone organization comes to life when we facilitate community health assessment, strategic planning, disaster planning and response, and community responses to access to care, infant mortality, and a myriad of other health disparities.
So without even knowing it, our region has created a strong foundation for collective impact to occur. We work to engage multiple sectors, we have a shared agenda, we have a shared data measurement system, in many cases we are implementing mutually reinforcing activities, we are communicating, and we have local and regional organizations taking on the backbone functions.
So what is next?
First, we need to guard against falling into the pattern of ‘Too much collective, too little impact.’ We need to work to align the multiple Initiatives in our community to reduce competition, redundancy, and increase impact. The good news is everyone is working together; the challenge is in aligning our efforts more effectively.
We also need to grapple with the reality that at the current resource level, at best we will get worse slower. We have to figure out how to make environmental and policy changes at the population level while focusing on interventions directed at health disparities. The best example of this is all of the work we have done in Ohio around tobacco control policies – clean indoor air – I think we are starting to see the effect of this work in our population health assessment data.
If we do not work on environmental and policy change, we may see improvements in the outcomes of our programs, but our health assessments will continue to show us that the overall health of our communities is not improving.
We also need to reach down into the fabric of our communities and address the social determinants of health – such as unmet basic needs, low education, and low employment levels, because programs alone will not improve the health of our communities.
So to fully embrace the philosophy of collective impact, we must reverse the traditional non-profit social change process. Traditionally, a non-profit identifies an isolated need, creates a service for that need, demonstrates results, and scales their service to more people in hopes of creating larger societal change. Collective impact instead begins with changing the community overall and works backward. It begins by setting a goal (for example, reducing opiate use by half) and then builds an ecosystem of non-profits, government agencies, schools, businesses, philanthropists, faith communities, neighborhood groups, and community leaders who create common strategies and coordinate integrated activities among them to achieve the goal. Instead of each group’s success being measured by meeting outcomes with their clients, everyone’s success is measured based on how they help move the overall community result.
I think northwest Ohio is ready to fully implement the concept of collective impact, and while it won’t happen overnight, the planners of today’s event hope that today will provide you with tools to help you in your journey to work with multiple sectors to improve the health of your community and together we will plant seeds that grow into healthy communities.