BH TIG Week: Learning from Learning Collaboratives: Part II Sustainability by Amy Herschell

Hello! I am Amy Herschell, PhD, Senior Director of Research Strategy and Outcomes Management for Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, UPMC Insurance Services (Community Care). In Part I of this series submitted by Shari Hutchison, MS, PMP, we talked about supporting implementation of best practice through the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s Breakthrough Series Learning Collaborative Model. When it comes to sustaining those practices, we’ve found a successful approach to be a phased approach where process and outcome aims or goals of the learning collaborative become incrementally more challenging, but engaging!

A phased approach helps capitalize on what we might expect within “real-world” settings. As programs are implemented, they are added into environments that are complex, fluid and evolving. A phased approach appreciates the value in small, incremental progress to reach a larger goal within an ever- changing environment. A phased approach also helps capitalize on what we might expect from the innovation, which also likely will need to be tailored to fit each unique setting and system.

For example, in a recent endeavor to support mental healthcare providers to coordinate care for the consumer’s physical health issues, we slowly stepped the collaborative from a focus on individual health to population health. Initial processes focused on individual wellness planning, but in later stages, providers were trained to screen for health issues (tobacco use, hypertension, and diabetes) and utilize a disease registry. Providers were prepared to assist consumers to make healthy changes from skills solidified in earlier stages. Adding more complex processes to a strong foundation has made this coordinated model of care successful. It has grown to include over 60 provider organizations in Pennsylvania to date.

Rad Resource:

Read about sustainability in this white paper from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement or learn more about the Breakthrough Series for quality improvement, here:

The EPIS Center also has some helpful videos and planning tools specific to Evidence-based Practice sustainability

Lessons Learned:

  1. The earlier you start planning for Sustainability, the better. Sustainability is intertwined with the implementation process – and so is its success!
  2. One of the most important predictors of sustainability is having enough financial resources to support the innovation long-term. It is important to involve multiple stakeholders early on who have expertise in funding and represent different possible funding sources.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Behavioral Health (BH) TIG Week with our colleagues in Behavioral Health Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our BH TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.