The Finger Lakes region is one of only six areas across the country recently selected to participate in ReThink Health Ventures, a health innovation project funded by the Fannie E. Rippel and Robert Wood Johnson foundations.
The two-year initiative aims to help successful community partnerships reach even higher in their efforts to improve care, increase access and lower medical costs.
“ReThink Health Ventures offers a wonderful opportunity for our region to benefit from national expertise in health ecosystem transformation and to learn how some of the most effective communities across the country are moving the needle on health,” said Becky Lyons, director of health and wellness for Wegmans Food Markets and chairman of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s health care planning team.
Trilby de Jung, CEO of Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, said the initiative will bring together several of Rochester’s community tables and ensure they are pulling in the same direction in their efforts to improve health.
Ventures was launched by ReThink Health to demonstrate to change makers that an integrated, dynamic and high-functioning health ecosystem is possible. While thousands of communities across the country are making progress in addressing health disparities, conventional thinking has not overcome systemic barriers and structural limitations.
The Finger Lakes region was selected to join the Ventures cohort because of the area’s advance thinking around these tough issues and its readiness to accelerate change. The Finger Lakes team is working to create a common vision and coordinated strategies across multiple initiatives aimed at improving community health. The group includes the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System, United Way of Greater Rochester, Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, Monroe County Department of Public Health, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s health care planning team.
“ReThink Health is excited to be working with these innovative partnerships to help them break from business as usual, to redesign and transform their health systems,” said Laura Landy, president and CEO of the Rippel Foundation. “It is these exemplars in communities across the country that will help demonstrate the power and necessity of looking at health as an ecosystem rather than as a collection of independent and siloed activities.”
The other regions in the Ventures cohort are Sonoma County, California; Trenton, New Jersey; Central Oregon; King County, Washington; and Bernalillo County, New Mexico. These regions are home to some of the most advanced transformation efforts in the country, but substantive and meaningful change can elude even those most poised for success.
The Ventures project intends to engage in a deep and different way with groups positioned to accelerate change at a regional level, to learn together and to explore key questions to determine what catalyzes action most effectively and what stalls progress. Ventures hopes to upend conventional thinking and to raise the ambitions and reduce the skepticism of communities and leaders both locally and nationally so that they aim for a higher standard.
Achieving these ambitious goals will require questioning norms that are ingrained in American culture by revisiting what health really means, how sectors and voices could contribute to it and what kind of commitment it will take for a community and the people who live there to be healthy.