Let’s Innovate Together in 2022!

Merrill Warschoff Press is Senior Vice President of Development and Innovation and Director of NACHC’s Center for Community Health Innovation

Just six months ago, NACHC officially launched the Center for Community Health Innovation with a generous grant from the RCHN Community Health Foundation. Our plans are ambitious, and we have made impressive progress during our startup phase.

In short, CCHI’s mission is to help health centers, PCAs and HCCNs adopt innovative practices that prepare them for the future – both opportunities and challenges, and that strengthen access to affordable, equitable, quality health care.

We have assessed feedback from NACHC members, our Board of Directors and committees, recent strategic planning meetings, PCAs, HCCNs, and NACHC’s Subject Matter Experts. This summer, we convened experts from around the country to dive deeper into CCHI’s design and plans. As a result of this groundwork, CCHI’s work is framed in three key areas:

(1) Workforce

(2) Practice Innovation Models

(3) Collaborative Arrangements

Over the coming months and years, CCHI will learn from you, and then lift up and disseminate best and promising practices and help others adapt and adopt these practices. Certainly, there will be instances where something altogether new must be developed and we will put our innovation skills to good use.

First Innovation Challenge: Enter by January 7

Last month, CCHI announced our first challenge competition. We are seeking best and promising practices from you that demonstrate how youth engagement can help address future workforce shortages. Enter your program by January 7 to win $10,000 or a scholarship to IDEO-U’s “Hello Design Thinking” course. (Visit https://www.nachc.org/focus-areas/center-for-community-health-innovation/cchi-workforce-challenge/)

Another element of our mission is to help foster innovation skills and culture – here at NACHC and across the health center movement. To that end, we formed an internal innovation group at NACHC with 30 members who meet regularly about innovation topics. Coming soon, at our 2022 Policy & Issues Forum, we have partnered with the Center for Care Innovations to offer an in-person workshop on design thinking on February 16 – “Transforming Challenges into Opportunities: Innovating to Drive Change and Improve Health Equity.” We hope you will join us!

Thinking big to prepare the health center movement for the future

There are several areas where big ideas need to be developed with a multitude of stakeholders. One, is Value-Based Pay/Care – it’s clear we need to build, test and promote models for the future. We’ve rolled up our sleeves and joined forces with others at NACHC to launch a Value-Based Pay/Care Work Group. This “One-NACHC” approach includes our Development and Innovation Division, and experts from NACHC’s Clinical Affairs Quality Center, Federal-State Policy, Regulatory Affairs, Research, Training and TA, and Public Health Priorities. We are leaning on input and learnings from our PCA and HCCN partners, collaborating with external research teams, and began discussions with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Early in 2022, we will begin a similar “One-NACHC” approach on longer-term Workforce issues.

Next month, our inaugural Innovation Advisory Council will convene. We have representatives from health centers of all sizes, rural and urban, as well as PCAs and HCCNs and consumer board members. The Council’s role is to bring a real-world experience lens to our work and at the same time to push each other to think big.

As we move into 2022, CCHI will announce additional challenge competitions, opportunities to learn about innovation together and from each other, and starting in January we will host an Innovation Blog Series. This will be a regular feature where you – our health center, PCA and HCCN friends, can blog about an innovation your organization developed or adopted, a challenge or opportunity where you are using design thinking or another innovation tool, or to share aspects of your innovation journey. Please contact us at innovation@NACHC.org to participate!

Something to consider — The words “innovation” and “innovative” are pervasive today. In our work life, these words are as universal as the adjectives “great” or “fine.”  After our startup work to create the CCHI was well underway, we paused to reconsider what we mean when we say “innovation.”  After looking to academia, tech giants, the health care industry, and the health center movement, CCHI convened with our NACHC colleagues to set out an umbrella or a purpose-driven scope for “Innovation at NACHC.” Here is where we landed:

Innovation at NACHC is transforming ideas into reality to foster greater community health center impact – on the health and health equity, of the people and communities they serve.

We are curious to hear from health centers, PCAs, HCCNs and our partners — how do you define or approach innovation? Please share your thoughts at innovation@NACHC.org.

Meet the Innovation Team

Lastly, I want to recognize and thank our small but mighty innovation team at CCHI:

Jason Patnosh is our Associate Vice President of Development and Innovation. You may know Jason from his 22-years of NACHC work including AmeriCorps, disaster relief, COVID resources, a multitude of private and corporate grants, or even from that time brought Elmo from Sesame Street to CHI. Jason’s wholehearted commitment to NACHC and to the health center program is profound, and his creative, but results-driven thinking will help us shape CCHI’s work now and into the future.

Camila Silva originally came to NACHC as a temp almost three years ago after building a startup, managing fellowship programs, consulting at the World Bank, and earning her Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship. She is fluent in three-plus languages, and she is a data, design, and project and process management guru. Before joining CCHI as our Deputy Director of Innovation, Camila led NACHC’s Quality Center’s efforts to build a learning management system, grow its Elevate program, and reengineer its data collection processes. Camila has only been with CCHI since September, but her enthusiasm for innovation is contagious!

Some of you may know me, Merrill Warschoff Press, from my 22-years of policy work for health centers, PCAs and NACHC along with my partner-in-crime and mentor, Phil Johnston. You may not know that I helped start and later ran a global health nonprofit, Health eVillages, where we brought technology, apps, digital content, and funding to clinics in Haiti, Sub-Saharan Africa, and to a few health centers, or that I started my career in the development department of RFK Human Rights, where I first met Phil, and our dear friend Linda Norris. Since I joined NACHC as SVP of Development and Innovation, and the curtain came down on life as we know it with the onset of COVID-19, I have been inspired every day by my NACHC colleagues and by everyone on the front lines of this dreadful pandemic. I hope what I bring to this work is my collaborative problem-solving nature and my drive to find a way to get to “yes.” Like the spirit of the health center movement –no matter the challenge, we’ll find a way together!

We all can’t wait to work with you on innovative ideas in 2022!

  • Enter our Workforce of the Future challenge by January 7 to win $10,000! (Enter here)
  • Innovate with us at our P&I Workshop on Design Thinking on February 16 in Washington, DC with the Center for Care Innovations. Register for the P&I here.
  • Volunteer to contribute to our Innovation Blog Series and let us hear from you about how you define innovationinnovation@NACHC.org.

And, from all of us at CCHI, we wish you, your real families, and your work families a restful, healthy holiday season and happy 2022!