The complete version of this report is available as a PDF
What does the future of health and human services look like? Where can we see glimpses of the future? How will we scale up promising innovations to achieve our vision?
We do have insights into catalysts for a generative future: we know that children from low-income families with access to health and nutrition programs are more likely to graduate from high school. We have proven that helping parents with low incomes increase their educational attainment also positively affects their children’s emotional health and performance in school. We have made the connection that families with stable housing and child care subsidies move up the income ladder faster and more sustainably. We have seen how human services, health, and policing agencies working together in a coordinated effective ecosystem can make communities safer and healthier. All of these generative outcomes help cut the cycle of poverty and move families and communities toward a culture of health and self-sufficiency.
Yet, here is the problem: even with all the positive examples of progress and innovation in knitting together services, more work must be done to envision and build the ecosystem of organizations that can work together to design and deliver solutions that address the root causes of individual, family, and community health and human services challenges.
To help health and human services leaders with these challenges, the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, Leadership for a Networked World, and Accenture, in collaboration with the American Public Human Services Association, convened senior-most leaders for The 2016 Health and Human Services Summit: Catalysts for a Generative Future. This seventh annual Summit, held from October 14 - 16, 2016, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provided an unparalleled opportunity to learn from and network with the world’s foremost health and human services practitioners, Harvard faculty and researchers, and industry experts. Participants left the Summit poised to deliver generative outcomes and impact for individuals, families, communities, and society.
This report synthesizes the key findings from the Summit. In particular, it contains special sections on 1) two-generation outcomes and impact; 2) the opportunities for collaboration between policing and human services; 3) leadership lessons from a keynote address by Rafael López, then the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and 4) recommendations from Summit attendees for priorities for HHS to focus on in the last 90 days of the Obama Administration, in the first 100 days of the new administration, and over the next four years.
Learn more about the framework being adopted in the Health and Human Services field >
“It is time for America’s (nonprofit) social sector to claim its distinction and imperative as a critical partner committed to our ultimate goal of achieving equity... We do this through the unique way we provide our services and supports, our innovative spirit, our leadership, our capacity for generative partnerships, and our paramount responsibility to advocacy. This is our moment!”
President and CEO, The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
As we move deeper into a digital world, health and human services leaders have more and more data at their fingertips. When this data can be shared across agencies in real-time and is structured in a user-friendly, objective, and informative way, it can play a critical role in seeding breakthrough innovations. In particular, health and human services leaders can identify new opportunities to improve the client experience, reduce costs, enable population health management, enhance care, provide greater equity, and focus on interventions for clients who touch multiple health and human services systems.
In 2011, Finland’s healthcare and social services leaders faced an extremely challenging set of circumstances. To begin with, there were a number of troubling trends—including the aging of the Finnish population and an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases—that portended a surge in demand for their services. At the same time, providers were dealing with increasingly complex cases—a difficulty that stemmed from the numerous clients and patients who had multiple conditions and were oscillating between the health and social services systems.
In late 2015, four leaders—William Hazel, the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia; Dr. Craig Ramey, a professor at Virginia Tech; and Accenture’s Howard Hendrick and Gary Glickman—began dissecting a simple but critical question. “What,” Glickman recalled, “are we trying to do for kids?”
In 2011, officials from the State of Ohio performed a cost-benefit analysis of the state’s spending on health and human services, and the results were alarming. On the one hand, per capita healthcare spending in Ohio was higher than all but 17 other states. On the other hand, Ohio had one of the least healthy workforces in the country. As dismaying as this situation was, newly-elected Governor John Kasich also realized that the state’s limited return on its health and human services investment created a powerful case for change.
“The volume, velocity and variety of change is greater than it has ever been.”
Chief Information Officer, Human Services & Chief Strategist Office of Management and Enterprise Services, State of Oklahoma
As health and human services leaders strive to lead their organizations to the highest levels of the Human Services
Value Curve, they face a number of challenges and opportunities. The biggest difficulty is finding a way to sustain
current service levels while simultaneously building stronger ecosystems to create generative outcomes in the future.
At the same time, health and human services leaders have an opportunity to produce impactful innovations at a
time when the field appears poised for transformation. As Dr. Antonio Oftelie, LNW’s Executive Director, said, “We’re
at an interesting inflection point when it comes to health and human services and the integration of that in creating
ecosystems of value and outcomes.” Thus, fostering cross-discipline and multi-agency ecosystems is not just an
intriguing strategy to pursue in the future; it is a necessity for organizations striving to remain at the cutting-edge of
helping citizens in need now. As Oftelie added, “I think we’re at a point where we need to start asking, ‘What comes
next with the Human Services Value Curve?’”
The dialogue at The 2016 Health and Human Services Summit: Catalysts for a Generative Future pointed to
three critical steps that health and human services leaders can take to navigate this challenge and seize these new
A broader takeaway from the Summit is that as challenging as it can be for organizations to reach the generative
stage of the Human Services Value curve, it also presents an exciting opportunity for leaders in this field. The next
generation will have to confront major obstacles, ranging from global warming to economic dislocation stemming
from increased automation. Having a robust and collaborative health and human services system therefore has the
potential to help millions of people lead safer, healthier, and happier lives. This calls to mind an observation made by
Accenture’s Ryan Oakes at the start of this year’s Summit. He said that he believes that, “It’s a human right for people
to have food on their table, clothes on their backs, shelter over their head, and safety at night.”
Leadership for a Networked World, and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard would like to thank the Executive Leadership Group for their vision and ideas that aided the development of this Summit.
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.