Allegiance Health in Jackson, Mich., is in the “messy middle” of moving from being a provider of “sick care” to a community wellness-based system, says president and CEO Georgia Fojtasek.

She described its “journey of transformation” toward achieving the “Triple Aim” of health care at an AHA Annual Membership Meeting executive briefing May 5 on “Engaging Trustees and Communities in Redefining the H.’” The Triple Aim calls for the simultaneous pursuit of three goals: improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of health care. 

Allegiance created a health improvement organization (HIO) to work with other community partners on projects that view community health in its broadest sense: food security, parenting, and emotional wellness of children. Allegiance has more than 30 community partners, including the United Way and county health department.

Fojtasek said the HIO has evolved into a collaboration of health-related community organizations that focuses on wellness and prevention measures, as well as best practices for treating current conditions.

Another important initiative is the Clinically Integrated Network, a highly coordinated effort of Allegiance Health and its physicians to improve health care outcomes and lower the total cost of care. Local employers also play an important role in Allegiance’s move to a wellness-based system.

An engaged board helps drive Allegiance Health’s community health mission. “It’s not just about the health of our institution, but how the health of our institution helps our mission,” says board member Neeta Delaney. On building broader community partnerships, Delaney says “we had to think of our institution as a collaborator rather than always leading the charge.”

“Allegiance Health is one of the featured systems in the AHA’s recently released “Redefining the H” toolkit.

“Doing the right thing in the absence of aligned payer incentives results in financial challenges,” the toolkit says of Allegiance Health’s efforts to redefine itself. “Allegiance Health has learned firsthand that the journey to population health is enormously messy work requiring a willingness to partner broadly, a focus on community need and a tenacious spirit required of marathons.”

At this week’s briefing, moderator and AHA Chairman Jonathan Perlin, M.D., says Allegiance Health is answering “tough questions” about how to achieve “better care, better health and better value.”