WIHI: How to Fail Forward (Quickly) on the Road to Population Health

Date: June 29, 2017


  • Soma Stout, MD, MS, Vice President, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)
  • Aimee Budnik, Director, Summit County Pathways HUB, Akron Summit Community Action, Inc.
  • Kim Fairley, Care Management Supervisor, North Colorado Health Alliance
  • Paul Howard, MPA, Director of Community Initiatives, 100 Million Healthier Lives, IHI

Learning from failure is an important part of the quality improvement process in health care. Groups focused on improving the health of communities are equally discovering the value of "failing forward," as it's sometimes called — that is, leverage the learning from failure to accelerate progress — especially as many are going about the work in decidedly new ways.

On the June 29 WIHI, we looked in on two communities who emerged from a boot camp of sorts known as Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation, or SCALE. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and part of the larger 100 Million Healthier Lives initiative, SCALE comprises 24 communities who have spent the past 24 months learning new leadership skills and, for the first time, improvement methods to deepen their work on a range of community health issues.

SCALE communities are engaged with everything from reducing chronic disease among homeless women and decreasing teen pregnancy, to replacing food deserts with affordable, healthy options, to building greater resiliency among children traumatized by violence.  


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