A new, but time-limited – looks like the emails may just be going out for just for 30 days – resource has been pouring into my inbox faster than I can read it. It’s called Care about your Care, and it’s sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a bunch of other groups (about 30 in fact: find the list here).
Part of the “Care” material is very consumer oriented- learning some of the basics about health care quality, such as “more is not always better” and how people can engage in their own care. That may help those of you who are trying to communicate the basics to your audience. There’s also a link to an RWJF site that pulls together in one place a lot of publicly available information about both cost and quality of care (people often ask questions about tracking down such data on the AHCJ electronic discussion list.)
But what really caught my attention about Care about your Care is that it’s a terrific road map to a lot of the innovation going on across the country, much of which hasn’t registered in the national media or in some cases even in the policy conversation. Some of the sites mentioned are Beacon communities – pace setters in using health IT to improve care. Some are part of RWJF’s Aligning Forces for Quality.
Looking though these Care about your Care alerts, I found a few initiatives that were particularly interesting because they brought so many difference branches of the community together – health care powerbrokers and local neighborhood groups.
Healthy Memphis: The Common Table, for instance, has programs ranging from diabetes control to encouraging farmers markets to training neighborhood health advocates who can then spread the work about quality care, including in low-income and underserved areas. Results can be measured: More people with diabetes are getting their blood sugar screened appropriately, the adult smoking rate has dropped, farmers markets are springing up, mammograms … well, maybe we shouldn’t go there.
So explore the site. Find out what’s going on in your state. And if the answer is nothing, find out why. Maybe you’ll discover that these ideas about quality and change are slowly begin to percolate, not just to “early adopters” aligned with groups like RWJF but through ordinary cities and towns. “Health reform” can be seen as more than a piece of legislation to fight about in Washington.
It is, potentially at least, a new way of thinking about, talking about, and doing something about both “health” and “care.”