April 19, 2023
After a three-year hiatus, OCHIN members from across the nation gathered at the OCHIN Learning Forum April 2-5 in Las Vegas to engage in firsthand learning, best practice sharing, and peer-to-peer collaboration. Guided by the theme “Illuminate What’s Possible,” participants attended a range of presentations and panel discussions designed to help connect patient care, unlock greater operational efficiencies, and implement proven solutions to advance health equity.
Growing with resilience in the face of adversity
In her opening remarks, OCHIN President and CEO Abby Sears highlighted the tremendous progress OCHIN members have made to improve the health of rural and medically underserved communities despite the unrelenting challenges of the past three years. She also highlighted the OCHIN network’s rapid growth and the increase in network patients using digital tools to access and manage their care:
- Over the past three years, the OCHIN network has grown to support over 25,000 providers in more than 40 states.
- In 2022, over 82 million patient records were exchanged across the OCHIN network, which is a 24.5% compound annual growth rate over the past three years.
- Over 1 million OCHIN network patients are using the MyChart portal, up from 297,000 in 2019.
- Over 4.4 million patients in the OCHIN network sought care with their provider in a virtual setting this past year.
“Even in the face of adversity, people grow and learn in unexpected ways,” Sears said. “We truly are stronger together, as a network.”
Weaving equity into the community
Sears then turned the stage over to New York Times bestselling author and policy and racial justice advocate Heather McGhee. McGhee, who designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America, spoke about the cost of racism and stressed the importance of organizational transformation in achieving racial equity. McGhee also emphasized the critical importance of the work OCHIN members are doing to expand access to care in their communities.
“You all are the weavers in your community. You are creating institutions and organizations dedicated to care for people who have been overlooked for most of their lives and have been left out of the system. … And the way in which you all have shouldered the burden of care throughout this pandemic and throughout your careers is something that I want to express my profound gratitude for,” McGhee said.
Envisioning a healthier future
During a panel discussion, OCHIN network leaders discussed the hard-won lessons of the past three years and how to apply them for a more equitable and sustainable future. Their insights touched on everything from optimizing virtual care delivery to nurturing the workforce of the future.
Domonic M. Hopson, MPH, CEO at Neighborhood Family Practice in Ohio reminded the audience about the importance of being intentional when adopting new technology to reach patients inclusively.
“Telehealth and other electronic tools are an amazing resource for our patients and for the community,” Hopson said. “But we have to remind ourselves that those tools, in some cases, likely exacerbated health disparities because there isn’t equitable access to technology … to use those tools.”
Heidi Hart, MBA, MEd, CEO at Terry Reilly Health Services in Idaho offered ideas for workforce development and encouraged conference attendees to reimagine what it means to be a teaching health center.
“We’re really more than a just a delivery system,” Hart said. “We are the employers, and the trainers, and the sites, and places where people will learn the skills that we want them to bring to the workplace … How are we creating not only a place that people want to come to, but pathways that allow them to be a part of the work?”
The OCHIN Learning Forum is an annual enrichment event designed uniquely for our members. To learn more about how to become an OCHIN member or sponsor ahead of next year’s event, visit https://ochinlearningforum.org/.