We are writing this at the end of another whirlwind year in ImproveCareNow. Just looking at the basic facts and figures, 2015 was much like every year since 2007—successful, busy, and vibrant:
- We continued to improve, with a continued steady increase in our Network-wide remission rate culminating in reaching 80% as of November 2015.
- We continued to grow, welcoming 14 new care centers during the year. We now include a total of 85 centers across the US and UK.
- We impacted the lives of more patients, with 24,000 children and youth with IBD cared for at ImproveCareNow centers. These children are benefiting from our focus on continuous improvement work and evolving pediatric IBD research portfolio.
- We stayed connected and communicated openly, on 10 Network-wide webinars, during 30+ Learning Lab webinars, within nearly 10 focused role-specific groups, and by way of our “virtual commons”. The ICN Exchange had 600+ users “sharing seamlessly and stealing shamelessly” in 2015.
- We continued to test new approaches to improving care and health of all children and youth with IBD, by launching a number (too many to count!) of new initiatives and collaborations, including the COMBINE study, the ImproveCareNow engagement and leadership campaign, and collaborations with CCFA and other external partners.
But there was something fundamentally different about 2015 that ran far deeper than numbers. This is the year that ImproveCareNow shifted from being a Network to being a Community. In some ways, the way we talk ImproveCareNow was responsible for the shift. For instance, we began calling our twice-yearly Learning Sessions by their new name – Community Conferences. We stopped saying Network and started saying Community in our blog posts and in e-mail communications. We used our growing social media reach to invite more patients and parents to be a part of the ImproveCareNow Community, supporting our mission of improving care for kids with IBD at the local or national level.
However, the shift was so much more than just words. Earlier this year, we began to reflect on the various things that make ImproveCareNow a Community. Some of these are numbers, the tangible things, but others are more about the way that we interact and the things we do together:
Throughout the year, we saw each of these things play out in our work together. We read and heard stories—the most compelling of which have come from our patient and parent colleagues—and were moved, motivated, and challenged by them. We learned and shared new quality improvement skills, new clinical interventions, and new ways to improve the delivery of care from each other. And we celebrated the successes of the community as a whole, but also smaller more individual achievements like when an improvement coordinator and patient worked together in new ways for the first time. The list of reasons why ImproveCareNow is a Community keeps growing and changing. But as we continue to take on new challenges together in the years to come we know one thing will remain the same – our Community will evolve and take on new characteristics so we can continue to improve, grow, impact, connect and change.
Often in our roles as Executive Directors of ImproveCareNow, we get caught up in the work of nurturing this bustling Community and do not take the time to reflect on what it has personally added to our lives—and not just our work lives. We each live in communities, and being geographically dispersed, these are in different places—Vermont, Ohio, and Wisconsin. We are also part of various professional communities, our childrens’ school communities, and several of us are part of communities related to our interests and activities of choice. But we feel incredibly lucky to also count ImproveCareNow as one of the communities to which we belong. A community of parents like Justin and Tania, patients like Alex and Bianca and Tyler, registered dietitians like Bernadette and Becca and Jen, physicians like Ian and Steve, psychologists like Laura and Michele, social workers like Jill and Rose, nurses like Pam and Jenny, coordinators like Cori and Theresa, and other ImproveCareNow team members like Mary and Melissa and Keith. These people—and many others like them—are so much more than just a list of names, e-mails, and roles that we risk becoming in less-vibrant communities. They have become our partners, our co-leaders, and our friends. The best thing about looking ahead to 2016 is that we get to continue to work with and learn from this community of friends and others like them who will join us over the coming year and will help us get even better together.
We hope that you too are looking ahead with excitement to the upcoming adventures in all of the communities to which you belong. Happy Holidays!