America’s Healthcare Laboratory

by Peter B. Johnsen
Peoria NEXT

NEXT Healthcare will serve as facilitator in creating, evaluating and implementing healthcare innovations.

Peoria has the potential to make significant contributions to the transformation of healthcare delivery in the U.S. with its unique collection of research, education and technology organizations. Peoria NEXT has conceived a collaborative project known as America’s Healthcare Laboratory that can create unique economic development opportunities and provide significant new job growth while improving healthcare access and quality.

The current transformation of healthcare envisions enhanced quality of care, improved patient safety and expanded access while reducing the cost of care. In making the transition from fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based delivery models designed to achieve these goals, new care approaches, enhanced infrastructure and innovative health information technology (HIT) tools will be required. This is particularly the case as greater emphasis is placed on both population and community health approaches.

Peoria NEXT has recently reorganized its governance structure and bylaws to have a new independent board of directors, and together formed a special project in healthcare. NEXT Healthcare was developed to serve as the facilitating convener of partner institutions of America’s Healthcare Laboratory to access additional funding opportunities to create, evaluate and implement healthcare innovations.

A major asset to the Healthcare Laboratory concept is a unique convergence of people, technology, resources and geography. The Peoria region has a very diverse population from both rural and urban communities and is served by sophisticated healthcare systems. While there is high patient mobility among regional healthcare providers, individuals are unlikely to seek services outside of the region.

Therefore, it is possible to use the local Health Information Exchange to monitor nearly all healthcare interactions and capture specific patient-related data. This is an ideal environment to examine the impact of different healthcare delivery models, clinical practices and new technologies while observing direct changes in utilization, outcomes and costs. Innovations created and validated in this unique environment can be replicated across the state and country with significant impact for the health of the nation.

The concept of America’s Healthcare Laboratory is grand and encompasses a host of large and geographically dispersed organizations. Projects will be large, complex and lengthy, and require a level of collaboration and coordination not typically seen for single- or even multiple-investigator-based projects typically undertaken within the healthcare community. A dedicated, convening organization is needed to assemble, coordinate and manage the organizational aspects of these large projects. This is the new role of Peoria NEXT and its NEXT Healthcare project. iBi

Peter B. Johnsen was a founding director of Peoria NEXT and currently serves as president.