December Reflections from Intrepid Ascent

Dear Colleagues,

As 2022 draws to a close, both the season and the sequence of events in our field make this a time of deep reflection, anticipation, and hope. The waves of the COVID-19 pandemic have diminished in force and regularity. Hospitals, clinics, and public health departments have begun to emerge from crisis mode to survey the wreckage, to appreciate institutions that held the line, and to consider opportunities to rebuild in new ways. The disparities spotlighted by the pandemic are adding policy-making momentum to integrate health care with allied fields, such as social services and housing, to address the social determinants of health and structural racism. Billions of dollars will flow into the Medicaid delivery system alone linked to related models and initiatives.

Just as importantly, we’ve begun to come together in person again to advance this work. Last week I attended the annual conference of the California Association of Public Hospitals / Safety Net Institute (CAPH/SNI) with several hundred companions. The positive in-person vibes and feedback loops flowed from the podium to the dance floor, which was hopping. And the commitment in the room to a robust public health care infrastructure was infectious and inspiring: check out these videos on award-winning health systems for advancing high quality equitable care in 2022. Several of these efforts incorporate technology tools in new and promising ways, such as linking clinic patients with healthy food delivery (Santa Clara County) and proactively engaging populations to improve health outcomes (Contra Costa County). At Intrepid, we are delighted to be supporting the overall award-winner – Alameda Health System’s BElovedBIRTH Black Centering – to onboard to a public health case management system.

Intrepid took several steps in 2022 that broadened our horizons and positioned us to journey further with our clients in 2023:

  • Early this year we created three consulting groups – Technology Strategy, Policy Innovation, and Community Change – and have continued to hire talented, passionate people to our team
  • We published a series of “Data Exchange Explainers” with the California Health Care Foundation to inform policy-making for the state’s Data Exchange Framework, honing our abilities to translate complex topics to broader audiences
  • We supported multiple communities in the adoption of technology for collaboration across sectors, from planning to implementation to training and workflow redesign, increasingly in the context of CalAIM goals to transform the Medi-Cal delivery system
  • We expanded our work with public health as it emerges from the pandemic, beginning with the case management system in Alameda County mentioned above, but also with other public health departments building data integrations with health care delivery partners; and we facilitated a multi-region initiative on approaches to addressing congenital syphilis
  • We also broadened our work in the behavioral health arena, assisting multiple behavioral health entities to advance their technology and policy infrastructure for data sharing
  • We actively monitored New York’s proposed 1115 Medicaid Waiver program, engaging in conversations with colleagues throughout the state, as we adapt our services for California’s 1115 Whole Person Care Program and CalAIM initiative to the emerging New York environment; and
  • We prepared new ways for clients to access our expertise, with significant investment in developing toolkits, off-the-shelf resources, and technology-assisted services that will become available in 2023.

We are grateful for the opportunity to participate with you in this transformative moment and look forward to joining forces next year. In the meantime, I hope that all of you are able to slow down, to settle into the changing season, to reflect, and to gather in warmth with family and friends.

See you next year,