A celebration of the Cambridge-Health Alliance–Gold Foundation Innovation Fellows

2017 Innovation Fellows, photo by Jeff Thiebauth

On January 24, 2017, over 60 leaders and innovators in health care, improvement science, measurement, story-telling, and patient-advocacy joined the Cambridge Health Alliance and the Arnold P Gold Foundation for a symposium to celebrate the success of the Cambridge Health Alliance–Gold Innovation Fellowship.

The fellowship is a mid-career professional development experience designed to introduce Fellows to the art and science of healthcare quality improvement through the lens of
co-production. Co-production recognizes that it is the partnership between a patient and a healthcare provider (or system)  that leads to better health outcomes.  The idea of meaningful partnerships was a thread woven throughout the event.

At the symposium, Don Berwick, MD brought alive the idea of co-production by sharing the story of a school he had recently visited in Westgate, England.  A local physician had seen a TV show about The Daily Mile, a program developed in Scotland where every teacher and every student runs a mile a day. The physician approached the school administration and together they worked to implement this practice.

Eighteen months later, all 2,000 kids run a mile a day.  Berwick relayed that when you talk to the kids, you see a transformation:  they feel more alert, they’re sleeping better. And the school’s 45% obesity rate has dropped to 0.

Berwick credits the success of this program to the relationships built between the physician and the school. This doctor took the time to engage with the community about public health and the school administration worked closely with him to make possible the time, space and structure for The Daily Mile.

Five Fellows were chosen for the inaugural Cambridge Health Alliance–Gold Innovation Fellowship, each of whom focused on a change project aligned with the institution’s strategic direction.  The Fellowship is directed by Maren Batalden, MD, Associate Chief Quality Officer at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), and Paul Batalden, MD.

During a panel discussion, Fellow Colleen O’Brien, PsyD stated that prior to the fellowship, if she encountered a barrier, she would avoid it. The Fellowship changed her perspective. “Now I want to examine the barriers.  I know that the system itself will show how it needs to change if I’m willing to watch, wait and listen.”

Maren Batalden, MD. photo by Jeff Thiebauth

Dr. Maren Batalden noted that the culture of improvement is a huge paradigm shift. “It takes shared goals, shared knowledge, mutual respect, and effective communication to co-produce good healthcare with patients,” she said.

Since the fellowship is part of an ongoing collaboration between CHA and the Gold Foundation, each CEO made remarks. CHA’s Patrick Wardell expressed pride in being part of an organization where these caring Fellows are pioneering the idea of coproduction.

Gold Foundation CEO Richard Levin thanked the group for coming to celebrate an experiment which already shows positive results.  “We must work harder and more creatively to help the intimate relationship between caregiver and cared for, and to understand that this relationship is as important as excellent clinical science and public health.”

Paul Batalden, MD closed the symposium by talking about plans for an international network of co-production scholars from the fields of health and social services. “There is a real joy that arises from understanding your own work, from listening and being listened to, and from improving health services and impacting health,” he said, “and I resolve to explore how this process can become routine in healthcare.”

See symposium program book with abstracts of projects and bios of participants