Chances are your organization has at least one committee focused on population health. And for most of our readers, you probably lead it and are on the hook to accomplish specific goals this year.
While committees can provide the structure to bring stakeholders together across the organization, we’ve also seen a number of examples where they fail to accomplish their intended goals. In our latest white paper, we focus on best practices for setting up an effective committee structure.
Steering and initiative-specific committees help drive change
Health care organizations often begin developing their population health infrastructure by calling upon system leaders across the care continuum to collaborate to advance population health objectives. But to effect change throughout the organization, the population health leadership team should be further segmented by function into steering and initiative-specific committees.
Steering committees are typically tasked with setting a strategic vision for hospitals and health systems. Common responsibilities include monitoring initiative progress, determining resource allocation at the system level, and providing high-level operational guidance. Initiative-specific committees operationalize hospital or health system strategy. These function-oriented groups are often comprised of a mix of executive leaders, directors, and frontline managers to ensure alignment between overarching strategy and population health initiatives.
Successful organizations have found that the formation of committees serves as a way to engage staff across the system and bolster collaborative efforts towards clearly defined goals.
Large health systems will commonly divide their steering committees by region to promote ownership over initiatives and goals and ensure that regional culture is taken into account. Initiative-specific committees may focus on operational aspects pertaining to developing the patient-centered medical home, improving health care IT, boosting physician engagement, improving employee health, or developing stronger relationships across the care continuum between the ambulatory, post-acute care, and community settings. Smaller organizations often begin with 2-4 subcommittees, while larger organizations may have upwards of 10.
Keeping your committee on track
Once population health leaders have established the necessary committees, they can drive committee effectiveness by creating a framework for committee operations, including the determination of a mandate, key objectives, and the creation of a charter.
And of course, to ensure progress toward population health goals, it is important to have accountability measures in place for each committee. Creating a detailed plan that goes beyond a standard "to-do" list will guide leaders in determining their standard(s) for success, identifying action steps, engaging relevant stakeholders, allocating necessary resources, predicting challenges, and establishing a timeline.