The Population Health Learning Collaborative (PopHLC) is a resource for people striving to improve population health in their communities and for the populations that they serve. The initial focus is on material, tools and techniques to enhance some of the foundational practices for improving community health—assessments and collaborative strategic plans. In addition, the PopHLC will provide opportunities to learn about innovative technologies that can support improvements in community health. It is not a site for general news on Population Health. The information is to help support practical improvements in targeted areas and to leverage promising new technologies.
The PopHLC will not focus on medical treatment protocols, medication research or other clinical care topics, but will rather focus on the processes and tools for collaboration among many different stakeholders in addressing prevention, social determinants of health, and care that extends beyond the walls of healthcare providers.
Conducting Health Assessments
There is are a growing array of assessments being done to address community health needs and the social determinants of health. Non-profit hospitals are required to conduct Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs), local health departments seeking accreditation are required to conduct Community Health Assessments (CHAs). Some communities are doing Population Health Assessments (PHAs). There is significant overlap in how these terms are used, and there is little value in spending effort trying to differentiate among terms. It is far more valuable to accelerate the adoption of the most promising practices. There is also value in creating approaches and examples of how to integrate many other community assessments being done by banks, housing organizations, philanthropic leaders or others in communities. The PopHLC will help spread the understanding and adoption of new sources of data, processes, types of analysis, structure of information, pathways for cross-sector collaboration and more.
Developing and Implementing Community Health Improvement Plans (CHIPs)
After doing assessments, the organizations and coalitions working to improve community (or population) health typically develop some sort of strategy or plan—often called a Community Health Improvement Plan or CHIP. Of the thousands of CHIPs that have been created in the past couple decades, very few can be considered inspiring successes when it comes to implementation and getting results. Some communities may have moved a few key measures in the right direction, but it is far more common for the communities to struggle with moving from a CHIP document to meaningful implementation with the scale of effort needed to significantly improve the measures of community health outcomes. The PopHLC will advance the practices, techniques, structure, theory, templates, tools, and technologies for improving the development and implementation of CHIPs.
Showcasing Promising Technologies to Improve Community Health
The rapid advances in many realms of technology are transforming how businesses operate, how people interact, how problems are solved, and how information is harnessed. Digital technologies can be rapidly and cost-effectively scaled up to bring great value to millions of people and organizations. In the for-profit world, there are often strong financial incentives to be early adopters, to push the boundaries, try new things and strive to achieve the first-mover advantage. But, in the non-profit and social sector, the pathways to scale up promising technologies are often much more difficult. The organizations and people who would benefit from using new technologies (such as community non-profit organizations, backbone organizations supporting collective impact, or people on the less fortunate side of health and economic disparities) often lack the funding to pay for technologies that could help them. Without a clear path to highly profitable sales, social sector technology innovators typically struggle to get the capital they need to do the marketing and promotion of their products to the organizations that would benefit from them. Universities that train people in public health and related social sector fields rarely incorporate new technologies because the pace of technological innovation exceeds the pace of new course development, and people in academia don’t want to be seen as favoring specific commercial vendors. Government programs and funding sources are essentially blocked from showcasing specific technologies because that would be seen as showing favoritism to particular companies. And people working in healthcare, non-profit, community organizations are often so busy with daily responsibilities that they lack the time to go out searching, hoping they might stumble across a technology that would enhance their effectiveness and make their lives easier and more productive. The PopHLC provides a space where different promising technologies can be showcased and where information about those technologies and how they might be used can be shared.
How will we facilitate learning?
As more people and organizations join in our effort, the options for learning will likely expand, but initially, we’re focusing on four primary pathways to share information and accelerate learning.
The first of what we hope to be annual workshops will be a virtual workshop on May 23, 2019. In the future these events may be held live. These will not be major conferences with a scattering of breakout sessions and speakers, but they will be smaller gatherings that will focus on specific training, knowledge sharing and exercises to equip participants with skill development to enhance population health efforts. These workshops will be ideal for groups of people from multiple sectors in a community to attend and accelerate their efforts to work together to address complex population health issues.
The Website will be a place to find information that is specifically focused on learning how to advance population health practices in the areas that the PopHLC will be focusing. It will provide an abundance of valuable (and free) resources, such as white papers, recorded Webinars, videos, links to resource hubs, and organized links to relevant websites that others have created.
Starting in June 2019, we plan to have monthly, one-hour Webinars that will feature one technique or topic, one case study, and one featured technology. These webinars, which will be free during 2019, will help keep population health leaders inspired and aware of ideas, tools, and innovations that they can adopt to improve efforts in their communities.
One of the benefits of participating in the PopHLC is the opportunity to connect with people who can advance your work in addressing population health issues. Part of that networking will involve connecting people with existing social media platforms (like https://community.healthdoers.org/, https://www.100mlives.org/join/#100mlivescommunity and https://hub.nic-us.org/). We don’t need to create another competing social media platform. We will work to systematically connect people who can work together in ways that will enhance each of their efforts by combining them in ways that create far more inspiring examples of success than if they were working independently.
Who is Behind the Population Health Learning Collaborative?
The PopHLC is being launched by a multi-sector coalition of organizations that believe that there are many ways that the topics we will be focusing on can be improved. The founding organizations include the Public Health Research Institute, InsightFormation, Inc., Streetwyze, Health Equity Analytics Lab, Impact4Health, and PE Jarris Health & Recreation, LLC. If you as an individual or organization would like to get involved and support these efforts to improve these key drivers of population health, we invite you to reach out and possibly join us. Contact us at info@ImprovePopHealth.org