Healthcare Reform

Public-Private Partnerships Are Jumpstarting Health Innovation

Public-private partnership innovation brainstorming session

In the world of health innovation, strategic collaborations are driving some of the most exciting work in the industry. Many of these relationships come in the form of public-private partnerships and capitalize on the strengths of both sectors to address problems neither can solve as effectively on their own, as the World Health Organization describes.

While private partners generally focus on overseeing design, implementation, funding and project completion, public partners focus on defining and monitoring compliance with the objective. These collaborative partnerships are driving economic diversification, which can lead to an even more promising future for health innovation.

These mutually beneficial public-private partnerships drive new business ventures to “advance national and local public health goals, such as improving quality of service delivery, and expanding access to care,” according to a report by PwC.

Innovation and the Federal Government

One recent and notable collaborative project between public and private sectors is the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) Blue Button 2.0 for secure health information sharing. The API provides 53 million Medicare beneficiaries access to their healthcare information, using the HL7 FHIR standard for beneficiary data and the OAuth 2.0 standard for beneficiary authorization.

Developers are integrating with Blue Button to streamline information about different kinds of care—for example, so providers can better inform treatment with a patient’s medical history. Through the API, access and monitoring can occur in one place, allowing health insights to be revealed that lead to improved outcomes—like giving a pharmacy the ability to confirm if a beneficiary is getting healthier from medication adherence.

“The Blue Button initiative is a model for what kinds of innovation can take place when the government devotes its resources to creation and problem-solving,” said Michael Corbin, director of strategic communications at NewWave, which partnered with CMS to develop Blue Button. “Part of our job is to help the federal government define what artificial intelligence is and can be—to develop a shared understanding, a shared vocabulary, a shared set of concepts around what artificial intelligence is.” Sharing this expertise is critical when educating policymakers, getting their buy-in, and securing the trust and support critical for driving innovative ventures forward.

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As public-private partnerships bring together larger networks, we can solve more complex health challenges than ever before.

  • Be Well OC, a new mental health and wellness campus in Orange County, California, will offer mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs to more than 3 million county residents, regardless of an individual’s payer. It marks one of the first major healthcare initiatives in California to leverage the combined capabilities of public and private institutions, including faith-based and academic organizations. Together they are joining in a collaborative effort that aims to improve homelessness, addiction and other challenges related to mental health.
  • HIMSS Davies Award winner Atrium Health recently leveraged census data and analytics to better understand their patient population using a geo-mapping process that incorporated data from multiple public resources—like the U.S. Census-American Community Survey. The health system developed an online interactive map to drive more focus on social determinants of health and screen for social needs such as food or housing insecurity.

“Community engagement is key,” said Ruth Krystopolski, senior vice president of population health at Atrium Health. “Utilizing grassroots community organizing from both the public and private sector is necessary to address social and economic disparities and ensure the community is linked to culturally competent resources. Technology will only take you so far without the appropriate connections.”

Public-private partnerships are clearly a driving force behind advancements in digital health. Through these collaborative efforts, the promise of health information and technology continues to grow stronger and the future of health brighter than ever.

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