D-H launches new innovation effort



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A new population health initiative at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon is aimed at developing innovative ways of delivering care and accelerating the process for implementing those innovations, in what’s being called a “collaborative living laboratory.”

The Population Health Collaboratory at D-H involves the entire D-H health system, along with Dartmouth College and its graduate and professional schools, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, and community health organizations – all to create solutions to high-cost and complex patient care, says the collaboratory’s inaugural director, Stephen J. Bartels, M.D.

“We want to rapidly identify and test new models of care, new technologies, and new uses of predictive analytics and actionable patient reported measures, to improve care,” says Bartels. “This is about innovation. It’s about improving health and health care in a learning academic health system and in the community by accelerated development, testing, and implementation.”

According to Bartels, this research will also produce results more quickly than the traditional academic research model, which Bartels notes can often take more than 15 years from idea to implementation in practice.

Redesigning primary care for the special needs of older adults is one of the first areas of focus, which Bartels notes “is obviously aligned with a very important priority for Dartmouth-Hitchcock because of our region’s demographics.” Bartels said he hopes to “transform geriatric care across the primary care setting in the region” and has received a $2.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to help fund their Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program.

In addition to geriatric primary care, Bartels says the early work of the collaboratory will focus on other new approaches and populations. For example, the collaboratory will be engaged in developing and evaluating innovative approaches to integrating mental health and substance use treatment into primary care, including targeting the emerging epidemic of opiate misuse in northern New England. The collaboratory will also be studying the experience of patients and providers using new technologies such as ImagineCare in improving health outcomes, he said.

“We’re at an exciting place to think about the way we deliver care,” Bartels says. “And to use our great talent, both clinically and academically, to test new approaches rapidly. Over time, we seek to be recognized as the nation’s leading population health living laboratory, where we co-create knowledge and health in partnership with patients, scientists, clinicians and communities. That’s its promise – an idea that harnesses the best qualities of our learning academic health system.” 

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