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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Think Globally, Act Locally

One of the challenges in standards development is staying connected to the end users.  That's why I try every year to write some code using the standards that I or someone else has worked on.  It keeps me connected. For the same reason, I also try to participate in local healthcare related events.

I spent this morning at my local Community Health Network Alliance meeting.  In Massachusetts, there are 27 of these organizations.  They are funded by a "tax" on healthcare capital spending in the region.  This is the second quarterly meeting I've attended.  I had to miss out on the last one due to some international activity (I think it was HL7 or IHE).

This is a great way to connect with what is happening in healthcare in my community, and also a great place to network with community leaders.  Among the attendees of this mornings meeting were a number of people in local school systems and advocacy agencies that could help me push forward this idea.

The organization will be putting forth grant opportunities in the early part of next year, and I intend to put together a coalition working on my personal pet project.  There are two kinds of grants: Community Engagement grants ($1K - 3.5K), and Impact grants (up to $10K).  I'll be looking at developing a project that will have two phases:

Phase 1 will likely seek a Community Engagement Grant to:

  1. Identify community middle and high schools interested in developing and piloting a health system literacy education program.
  2. Developing pilot course materials.
  3. Develop a community engagement program around the course materials.
  4. Pilot the materials and engagement program in one or more of those schools.
If phase 1 is successful, phase 2 will look at how to roll this out across more communities in the state.

The timing is challenging.  Grant applications are due in May, which means that we'd have a very short period to put together materials that could be piloted in schools by September.  I'm hoping most of the real development work would be volunteer efforts, and that funding could go towards getting a patient activist to present at the community engagement event.  It's possible also that one or more of the advocacy organizations would be willing to chip in.

Someone asked me how I'd do this, and if I had the spare time.  For this, I'd make the spare time.  A program like this could go viral.

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