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CO Health Alliances: Leading Change Locally

By Joe Sammen, Director of Community Initiatives, Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved.

Originally published January 15th on the Community Connections blog from The Colorado Trust.

Today's health care landscape is changing rapidly, and the action at the state and national level is receiving a lot of attention. However, much is happening at the local level, too. Local communities are coming together and taking the initiative to improve their own health care systems in exciting and innovative ways. Although certainly catalyzed by recent state and national health reforms, this movement has been gaining steam for years.

At the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved (CCMU), we believe these local change efforts are the cornerstone of creating a more equitable and just health care system in Colorado. Health truly is a local, community-level issue that requires a local, community-level response.

All across the state, formal health alliances are developing customized approaches to build better health care systems. From care coordination and health information exchange strategies to outreach, enrollment and education efforts, Colorado's health alliances are using collective, collaborative leadership strategies to transform local health care and assure access to care for all members of their community.

Since 2012, CCMU has convened these alliances in a statewide learning network called the Colorado Network of Health Alliances. This week, we published a year-in-review document, Progress & Possibilities, detailing the first year of the network. This report, funded by The Colorado Trust, includes information on current membership of the network (21 alliances), highlights of work being done around the state and regional profiles. The report also identified three strategies for local health care change that are common across the members of the Colorado Network of Health Alliances:

  • Developing Health Care Leadership for Change – Health alliances are on the front lines of identifying and developing champions for health care change in communities across Colorado. These organizations have the unique ability to bring diverse and high-powered leaders and stakeholders together to work toward common goals.
  • Increasing Access to the Health Care System – Health alliances are working hard to catalyze new health care access points, to maximize enrollment in new health insurance coverage options and planning to care for the needs of Coloradans who will remain uninsured after the Affordable Care Act is implemented.
  • Improving and Strengthening the Health Care System – Through formal alliances, health and community leaders across the state are constantly searching for ways to coordinate services, limit duplication and pool resources.

2013 was a year of tumultuous change in the health care system and much more is on the way. Colorado's health alliances are poised to implement local change strategies that will lead our state toward stronger and more inclusive health care systems. In 2014 and beyond, the Colorado Network of Health Alliances has the potential to effectively create significant and lasting health care change in Colorado, and to be a model of collaboration and collective action for the nation. Read the new report to learn more.

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