June 20, 2019

Innovation Meets Collaboration: 2019 Population Health Research Symposium

Evaluation and research are essential to spreading and sustaining population health clinical innovations and programs at Partners HealthCare. On Monday, June 10, Partners Population Health co-sponsored its third annual Research Symposium with the Mongan Institute to celebrate the research that informs care transformation efforts. Over 200 attendees—in clinical, administrative and research roles—from across the Partners network participated in a day filled with keynote speakers, break-out sessions and a lunchtime poster session.

“It’s an opportunity for operational leaders and the research community interested in health care transformation to come together, forge connections and learn new skills that can be applied as we continue to improve the way we provide care to our patients,” said Christine Vogeli, PhD, Director of Evaluation and Research, Partners Population Health.

Creating a Learning Health System

Dr. Steve Bartels, Director of the Mongan Institute and Professor of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, delivered the first keynote of the day, titled “Translational Implementation Research in Learning Health Systems.” Dr. Bartels introduced the familiar “clash of cultures” that often occurs between the research and operational functions in health care. To overcome this rift, Dr. Bartels shared his vision for positive change through translational population and health care delivery science, specifically offering Implementation Science as a solution to help break down silos that can hinder health care innovation. He also urged attendees to a consider a next generation learning health system as a catalyst for rapid development and implementation of solutions for the most difficult (and highest cost) problems in health care.

“This is a really exciting time for data science and implementation science. There are a host of new designs and approaches that were not possible five years ago, but today present a real opportunity for effective implementation of clinical innovations,” says Dr. Bartels. “The Research Symposium is a great opportunity to bring together stakeholders across the Partners network to discuss how we can embolden and support new models in the face of constantly changing evidence, interventions, practice settings, and ecological systems.”

A Crash Course in Care Innovation

A variety of breakout sessions focused on more narrowly-defined topics, providing open forums for attendees to engage in thoughtful discussion, understand the outcomes of past research, and discover opportunities for future collaboration. Breakout sessions educated the research community about key clinical initiatives; demonstrated how the unique data assets available within Partners Population Health can be leveraged for research, and emphasized the value of community partnerships in this important work.

In addition to the breakout sessions, the Rapid Fire Podium Presentations allowed teams from across the network to present their research on a specific topic related to care innovation. In this interactive setting, questions from the audience echoed some of the important themes from Dr. Bartels’ keynote as attendees inquired about the practical implications of the findings presented, including the sustainability of programs, avenues for commercialization, and how programs can be best adapted operationally. Despite the wide-ranging topics of these presentations, which included “Evaluation of the Partners Mobile Observation Unit” and “Utility, Appropriateness, and Content of Electronic Consultations at Partners HealthCare,” both the audience and presenters themselves recognized commonalities among the different presentations.

“I learned so much from what others are doing around the system and the passion we all have for managing our patient population,” said Maryann Vienneau, Program Director for iCMP and Palliative Care, Partners HealthCare. “I enjoyed being able to share our work from the iCMP Plus program and I hope I was able to provide some learnings for others who are thinking of implementing a new program partnering with an external vendor.”

Taking a Page from Sustainable Farming

Dr. Tracy A. Lieu, Director of the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, delivered the final keynote address. Dr. Lieu discussed her system’s work in the field of Delivery Science and lessons learned that can be applied in population health. She explored how four principles of sustainable farming (knowing your market, meeting current needs, celebrating biodiversity, and establishing renewable energy supplies via idea development) can be adapted in health care to overcome challenges and cultivate delivery science within health systems. Dr. Lieu ultimately concluded that researchers can be useful partners with clinical and operational leaders, and new solutions and structures can foster sustainable partnerships in this work.

Forging Pathways Towards Implementation

A poster session also provided attendees the chance to exchange perspectives and best practices as they learned about additional new findings, approaches, and methods. With more than 55 abstracts submitted for the Symposium, 39 posters were accepted for presentation with representation from across the Partners system. Subjects ranged from disparities in care in the iCMP program, to the role of stress management on physician burnout, and an overview of a bridge program for substance use disorders.

Ultimately, the Research Symposium helps foster a new paradigm for scientists, researchers, clinicians, operational leaders, and managers to work together and make health care better. “A symposium like this is the start of what you hope to be a sustainable conversation,” said Dr. Leiu in her closing remarks. Using the ideas and strategies presented in the Symposium, Partners will continue to establish pathways towards implementation for our innovations to improve the care of our patients.


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