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Promoting Community Collaboration through the Creation of a White Paper

Posted By Randall Reitz, Friday, October 9, 2009
Updated: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mesa County, Colorado is a unique healthcare community. We benefit from an investment of $1 million donated from the local physician's group with $1.5 million offered by the local health insurance company that self-started a regional health information organization (RHIO). This technical collaboration unites the health records of our entire community.

Similarly, the primary care physicians and mental health providers in our community have a long history of collaborating for quality patient outcomes. This is most striking in the collaboration between for-profit and non-profit offices. These efforts were originated and maintained through the coordination of the Integrated Care Council of Mesa County.

The Integrated Care Council's successes have gained some recognition on a state and national level, but they remain largely unknown among the inhabitants of our own community. This is to our detriment because it hampers our ability to grow our model. So, earlier this year the Council set a goal of publishing a white paper that would be endorsed by all the major healthcare players in our community. This was a daunting task because many of these stakeholders are competitors and some of them would be hearing of the council for the first time when we approached them for a signature.

Undaunted, we facilitated several brainstorming and writing sessions to craft the text of our document. Our aim was to convey the stats and stories of collaborative care in Mesa County, to celebrate success, to increase buy-in from the community, and to launch a next round of initiatives. From the outset, we set a goal of limiting the document to a one-pager (front and back) that could be easily distributed and digested.

Once we had edited it to the council's liking we began distributing it to community leaders. Everyone we spoke with signed the document and requested very few changes to the wording. This includes the heads of:

  • The largest for-profit primary care offices,
  • The local independent physicians association,
  • The safety-net clinics,
  • The community mental health center,
  • The largest for-profit behavioral health office,
  • The RHIO,
  • The predominant insurance company,
  • The predominant hospitals from the 2 largest cities,
  • The local NAMI affiliate, and
  • The largest human services non-profit.

The Council paid a nominal amount to have the content and digital signatures formatted by a graphic designer. Just this week, the dissemination-ready draft was given final approval by the signatories and the Council and this blog post is the official launch of our white paper. See the final document by clicking here.

Our next challenge is to capitalize on this momentum by going back to the signatories and partnering with them to advance the initiatives proposed in the white paper.

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