In November I had the honor of participating in an inspiring event centered on changing the conversation about health care in Colorado. The CIVHC Connect: Dollars and Sense day-long meeting was full of solution-focused discussion, insightful questions, and a diversity of perspectives.

All too often, health care conferences strive to describe the problems we face in great detail. In the name of inciting action, they employ tug-on-your-heartstrings stories and imaginative infographics to make the issues relatable and bring them home to our backyards. However, this deluge of problem-focused information frequently backfires, overwhelming participants, making the situation feel hopeless, and generating no action at all.

Avoiding this hopeless sensation was the CIVHC team’s goal while planning the Dollars and Sense event and by the end of the day, I am happy to say we achieved it. After presentations highlighting how data is a vital tool for Change Agents, a panel of Colorado’s health care leaders took the stage for a lively discussion about concrete ways stakeholders across the state are working to improve care and lower costs. For once, the conversation was about the efforts currently happening, including the Five Year Roadmap initiated by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, ways employers are helping to manage costs, the hospital transformation project, and the programs surrounding controlling prescription drug pricing and out of network costs.

One our barometers of success was the level of audience engagement during all of the sessions, not just the panel. Coloradans are invested in making health care better for us all and it was evident that there are knowledgeable and passionate individuals ready to understand the data and take the necessary steps to affect change. Attendees asked insightful questions of the presenters – and each other– with the clear objective of solving the problems, not continuing to admire them.

The dual emphasis on action and collaboration was an important theme for attendees, who appreciated the opportunity to have these meaningful conversations across silos and stakeholder sectors. By the end of the day, everyone was fired up and ready for next steps, creating an atmosphere of hope and momentum toward positive change. It was a feeling I’ve rarely experienced in my long healthcare career and I am proud to have been a part of it.

However, as Senator Smallwood noted, one day of engagement and collaboration will not result in the changes we all hope to see. Things won’t get better if we don’t start working together every day. Change is painful and it takes guts to take the needed steps.  It requires all of us to remain involved beyond the conferences and meetings. CIVHC and I are committed to staying involved however long it takes to improve the life of every Coloradan and we hope you join us.

By Ana English, CIVHC President and CEO