The Unique Role of Regional Collaboratives in the Evolution from Health Care to Population Health

“We are moving from AF4Q to AF4H—health,” declared moderator Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement. As interest in population health grows, regional collaboratives are well positioned to be leaders, especially building on their existing strengths. “The Unique Role of Regional Collaboratives in the Evolution from Health Care to Population Health” explored the challenges, gaps, and building blocks already in place to move from health care to health. 
So, what are some of the barriers to paying for health, rather than health care? Panelists, including Dr. Corey Waller of Spectrum Health, Scotty Ellis of the Coalition for a Livable Future, and Nathan Johnson of the Washington State Health Care Authority, identified obstacles to progress that plague health care quality improvement. Of note were the differing measurements of quality; incompatible data sets; and the fee-for-service structure. “So much money has been spent on implementing electronic health records across country but there is a severe lack of clinical data sharing,” said Johnson.
Despite these barriers, regional collaboratives are well on their way to addressing population health. Regional collaboratives gather data and set benchmarks for quality. They have partnerships with state and local agencies and nonprofits—not to be overlooked in health care transformation. Payers, like Washington State, have levers to influence policy and payment structures. And, innovative pilot projects and clinics, like Dr. Waller’s, can demonstrate their positive return on investment. “Be a bully with a lot of data,” advised Dr. Waller. “That way, the CFO can’t say no.”