Reflecting on the 2018 Health and Human Services Summit: Designing Generative Outcomes

What will it take to sustainably solve complex health and human services challenges? What new forms of organizing policy, resources, and services will lead to better community, family, and individual outcomes? What form of leadership will it take to make progress? This past October’s Health and Human Services Summit was built around answering these pivotal questions.

We began the Summit by looking at the urgent importance of designing health and human services ecosystems – a network of organizations, machines, and services that coproduce new solutions to address and solve the root causes of individual, family, and community health and human services challenges.

Attendees focused in on three examples of ecosystems that are working to create entirely new forms of outcomes. The State of Ohio is leveraging an ecosystem-based business model, and robust analytics, in order to support episode-based payment models – an approach in which payment is based on performance in outcomes across multiple providers for a specific condition. In Connecticut, health and human services leaders realized that 75% of children were already developmentally behind by the time they entered Head Start. To change this trajectory, officials created an ecosystem that identifies infants at risk and designs interventions for the family with a goal of preventing adverse childhood events. And in Illinois, state leaders are launching an ecosystem to build Integrated Health Homes which that will coordinate care across physical, behavioral, and social care needs to improve outcomes for high-need Medicaid populations. As a community, we galvanized around these challenges and co-designed strategies for launching, growing, and renewing health and human services ecosystems.

To gain an understanding of how to architect future-oriented business models such as ecosystems, we explored the network of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with Dr. Tom Feeley, to learn lessons on reorganizing care around patients, measuring outcomes and cost, paying for good outcomes, integrating service delivery systems, and building enabling technology platforms. Chief Hank Stawinski, of Prince George’s County, joined us to describe the county’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, which has increased collaboration across government agencies, reduced crime, and improved outcomes that matter to citizens. Dr. John Friedman introduced us to the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights project and helped us consider how we can use data to better understand community-level factors that deeply impact whether or not a child prospers as an adult, in order to design more effective interventions to generational poverty.

To bring us to a finale, Dr. Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School inspired us with her insights on courageous leadership from renowned environmentalist Rachel Carson and President Abraham Lincoln, and reminded us that, “The world has never needed you to get better and better, more than it does now… Your role—the way you literally carry yourself—has never mattered more than it does now.”

On behalf of my colleagues at Harvard University, Accenture, the American Public Human Services Association, and the leaders attending the Health and Human Services Summit, please stay tuned for more insights from the event. We value your leadership, your passion, your curiosity, and your commitment to human wellbeing!


Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie
Fellow, Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard
Executive Director, Leadership for a Networked World
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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Leadership for a Networked World’s applied research, student innovation challenge, and on-campus summit programs are an initiative of Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie, Innovation Fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH), part of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. TECH is a hub for students, faculty, alumni, and government and industry leaders to learn together, collaborate, and innovate. LNW accelerates these efforts by connecting leaders across sectors and developing cutting-edge thought leadership on innovation and organizational transformation.

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