All this talk about integrated care and integrated care management has made the many models of integration – partnership, collaboration, coordination – a hot topic. The question? How to make it work.
That was the focus of my town hall session, Building Community Partnerships To Promote Coordination Of Care: A Town Hall Discussion, sponsored by Genoa Healthcare, at The 2014 OPEN MINDS Planning & Innovation Institute. We invited five executives currently managing care coordination initiatives to share the secrets of their success – and their challenges. My big take-aways from the session were these tips:
1. Finding your organization’s place in the community is an important first step when looking for suitable partnerships. What are the services your community needs, who else is providing them, and most importantly, who isn’t providing them. Diana Knaebe, MSW, President & Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Behavioral Health Center noted, “The first question is, what is it that you can do to help solve problems with the community? [A big challenge] is keeping everyone focused on that intent, and what the commonalities are.” Ms. Knaebe also noted that her team was exploring use of social media as a vehicle for messaging with partners and with consumers.
2. Choose only those partners you have a chance of succeeding with. There is a big difference between wanting to work with another organization, and making that work successful. Do all your homework and execute a thorough, deliberate partner selection process. Debra Falvo, MHSA, RNC, Project Leader, Community Development, Genoa Healthcare stressed that, “You have to decide who you have the best chance of being successful with. Sometimes it’s about community perceptions, but also organization goals, and staff goals. Those can lead to success, or be the thing that can kill the deal.”
3. Make sure all collaborators are “on the same page” concerning objectives, what everyone needs from the collaboration. And be prepared when those needs don’t line up – some collaborations aren’t worth pursuing because both organizations have irreconcilable visions. Jennifer Moses, Chief Executive Officer, Zepf Center noted, “One of the biggest challenges is making sure [the partnership] is mutually beneficial. You aren’t going to sit down and agree, and you aren’t even going to meet in the middle.”
4. Don’t just go into a collaboration and ask someone else to solve your problems. This is especially important if the partnership benefits you more than your potential partner. Jan Kasofsky, Ph.D., Executive Director, Capital Area Human Services District pointed out that organizations won’t have the same reason to come to the table. She said, “Understand what the other partner needs, make sure the benefits are going in both directions, be proactive and have the leadership in place to make it work.”
5. Logistics, logistics, logistics. It’s essential to be systematic and have a process. In every collaboration (whether there is money involved or not) there are many elements in play that can make or break the partnership. The process and decision criteria need to be laid out in advance. Mary Colleran, Chief Operations Officer, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare added, “You need to stay energized in a world where we’ve been there and done that, and you don’t know why this [partnership] iteration is different. There are a lot of meetings, calls, and workflows, and if you don’t dedicate the time and energy to that, it’s all just words.”
In our current market, where everyone is excited about integration, what I took away from our panel is that planning and positioning are essential. It is tempting for provider organizations to jump right in with the first opportunity they come across for a partnership, collaboration, or coordination model – but provider organizations need to understand three things before they move forward: 1) Your organization’s long-term goals and market position; 2) The needs of your consumers and payers; 3) The goals and plans of your partnering organization. If you can gain a clear understanding in these three areas, then you’ll be on the right path to making integration work for your organization.