Disclaimer: Moving Health Care Upstream is a collaborative effort originally co-led by Nemours Children’s Health System (Nemours) and the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nemours, UCLA or the Moving Health Care Upstream initiative.
Integrative Activities: What Are They & What Value Do They Bring to Population Health Networks?
Integrative Activities are the governance, oversight, and administrative functions that enable population health networks to carry out tasks and strategies related to the network’s shared population health goals. Like an engine, integrative activities propel networks forward.
Over the last two years, Nemours has been exploring the ways integrative activities can be used to strengthen population health networks. This has included revisiting the framework of integrative activities Nemours presented in 2012 and understanding the value of strategic use of integrative activities.
An Evolved Understanding of Integrative Activities
Beginning in early 2019, Nemours scanned the literature and conducted formal interviews with 40 experts representing 30 organizations. Interview feedback as well as insights gleaned from Nemours’ 2020 Integrator Learning Lab (a learning-and-action collaborative) and ongoing conversations with others in the field doing related work informed updates to the framework presented in 2012. The updated framework reflects three major areas of feedback:
- The categories and functions within the 2012 framework felt correct and complete to interviewees, though some should be called out more explicitly. The categories and functions successfully captured essential components that enable population health networks to carry out tasks and strategies related to the network’s shared population health goals.
- Explicitly call out critical foundational elements within the framework; specifically, issues of equity and inclusion, and network governance and management considerations.
- Include big ideas as well as details needed to operationalize those big ideas and put them into practice.
While Nemours’ 2012 framework of integrative activities included three categories, the updated framework includes five broad categories, each with an aspirational descriptor and a detailed list of integrative activities. Descriptors present the big idea of each category- the ideal state. Specific integrative activities associated with each category operationalize the big ideas- providing a roadmap or checklist that network partners can use to assess the network and plan for adoption and strategic use of integrative activities. The five categories within Nemours’ framework of essential integrative activities are: 1) Governance & Leadership; 2) Continuous Use of a Health Equity Lens; 3) Innovation & Oversight; 4) Continuous Learning & Improvement; and 5) Spread, Scale & Sustainability.
Nemours is pleased to share its updated framework of essential activities with the field, along with a collection of tools for action, findings and recommendations from the 2020 Integrator Learning Lab, and videos featuring insights from Lab members. Click here to explore the collection.
What’s The Value? How Does Strategic Use of Integrative Activities Benefit Networks?
A key premise of Nemours’ work is that deliberately deploying integrative activities in support of specific network strategies and work plans allows networks to go further and be more sustainable. Participants in the Integrator Learning Lab shared insights on how this occurs.
- Integrative activities provide a framework for ensuring that network strategies and work plans align with and gain support from governance, management, and administrative functions – increasing network efficiency and effectiveness.
- Strategic assessment of if/how deploying integrative activities to support network strategies and work plans enhances a culture of innovation and continuous learning and improvement.
- Considering community-wide health, well-being, and health equity through the lens of integrative activities helps remove silos, increase synergy, and create efficiencies of scale. Strategic use of integrative activities to align efforts of networks.
For more insights on the value of integrative activities, view our video series featuring members of Nemours’ 2020 Integrator Learning Lab.
“I truly feel that the integrative activities are really key to the health of a network and then critical to innovation. And really, what it does is it provides a roadmap of just key functions that you need to consider when you’re working towards goals to improve health and wellbeing of people in your community. And they give structure for people who are looking to start out, especially. What are the key pieces that I need to include for this initiative or this collaborative, or to work on this in our community? It also provides insights for mature networks.”
– Integrator Learning Lab member; First 1,000 Days of Sarasota County
(Sarasota County, Florida)