A Guide to Developing State Child Health 'Improvement Partnerships'

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A new online guide from the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) provides state leaders in child health with step-by-step instructions to developing sustainable collaborations of public and private partners that are dedicated to improving the quality of children's health care.

History of Improvement Partnerships

VCHIP was initially formed in 1999, when the Vermont chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics partnered with the state health department and the University of Vermont’s pediatrics department to improve child health outcomes throughout the state. Other partner organizations, including professional associations, state Medicaid and human services agencies, and managed care organizations joined the effort later. VCHIP has now conducted successful quality improvement projects in a number of areas: preventive services, developmental services, prenatal care, asthma and ADHD.

Beginning in 2003 with New Mexico and Utah, VCHIP has also provided expert consultation to a number of states looking to start their own improvement partnerships. With Fund support, the improvement partnerships model has now been replicated in 10 more states. Initiatives range from Utah’s maternal depression screening collaborative to New York’s effort to build integrated community systems for children with special healthcare needs. A new Fund grant will continue the replication of the VCHIP model to additional states and build a sustainable national infrastructure so that improvement partnerships can continue to collaborate with and learn from each other.

The Issue

Developing successful child health care quality-improvement initiatives at the regional or state level can be a daunting task, due largely to the complexity of the current system and the range of stakeholder interests involved. Yet, state-level partnerships that bring together medical societies, pediatricians and other child health care providers, Medicaid programs, public health, academic institutions, community organizations and insurers have been extremely effective in changing practice behavior, driving policy change, and ultimately improving health care services for children.

Target Audience

Practice and hospital-based health care professionals; state government agencies and programs; academic institutions; professional organizations; insurers and other health care payers; policymakers; parent organizations; and other stakeholders that have a regional or statewide interest in child health.

The Intervention

 A Guide to Developing an Improvement Partnership helps key stakeholders in children's health create and maintain an Improvement Partnership (IP), "a durable, regional collaboration of public and private partners that uses measurement-based efforts and a systems approach to improve the quality of children's health care." The guide was developed by the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP), a longstanding improvement partnership (IP) based at The University of Vermont College of Medicine that has assisted a number of states in creating and sustaining their own IPs.

The guide is divided into four sections: 1) an introduction to IPs; 2) instructions on how to set up an IP in a region or state; 3) instructions on how to effectively run an established IP, including advice on financing and staffing; and 4) a collection of resources and tools.

In addition to walking through the steps required to create and sustain a successful IP, the guide includes sample documents (i.e. questionnaires, job descriptions, funding requests and budgets) for other states to adopt and provides examples from thirteen existing IPs, highlighting their work to date and illustrating how the process of creating an IP can be effectively tailored to meet the needs of different states.

For More Information

Contact Judith Shaw, judith.shaw@uvm.edu, or Kim Paul, kim.paul@uvm.edu.