On August 25, The Nicholson Foundation announced the selection of nine safety-net healthcare organizations from prominent organizations across the state to participate in the New Jersey Innovation Catalyst Initiative. Through hands-on training and coaching, the Initiative, a first-of-its-kind, statewide endeavor, will give the organizations skills and strategies to help them develop and test innovative solutions to improve care delivery for the vulnerable populations they serve. The Initiative will focus on three areas of healthcare delivery that have been identified as ripe for and in need of innovation: improving access to care, increasing patient engagement, and addressing social determinants of health. All of these issues disproportionately affect safety-net patients.
The nine organizations are: CompleteCare Health Network, Henry J. Austin Health Center, Hospital Alliance of New Jersey, New Jersey Primary Care Association, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, and Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, Inc.
Teams from the winning organizations described a diverse set of challenges for which they would like to develop innovative solutions. These challenges range from limited access to healthy foods and nutrition education for residents living in “food deserts,” to a lack of access to healthcare as well as overreliance on emergency department and hospital care. Other teams want to address patients’ limited understanding of the importance of regular primary and preventive healthcare and pervasive language and cultural barriers that prevent successful engagement in healthcare.
The Initiative is led by the Center for Care Innovations (CCI), a California-based non-profit that designs and implements programs focused on transforming the healthcare safety net. CCI will help teams from the nine organizations to reimagine how healthcare within their institutions can be delivered to address the challenges they have identified, thereby better meeting the needs of the residents of their communities. The teams will move from concept to planning to implementation, and then—if the projects are successful—to broader application throughout their institution.
During the four-month initial phase of the Initiative, teams will receive training in human-centered design techniques provided by gravitytank, an innovation consultancy. The training presents a creative problem-solving approach that focuses on thoroughly understanding the needs of the target population and designing solutions that are tailor made for them. Using these new skills, the teams will then work with coaches to fully describe the challenge they have identified from the point of view of their community’s population, explore a potential solution, and plan a strategy to carry out the solution. Each team also will join a virtual learning community with the other teams participating in the Initiative. A second, nine-month phase of the Initiative will give teams the opportunity to pilot test their innovative solutions within their organizations.
Visit the New Jersey Innovation Catalyst Initiative project page.