Episode 16 of the More than Health Care: A Community Health Conversation podcast is now available on the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ website and on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. Every other week, a new episode uncovers keys to collaboration and holistic health in pursuit of improved health outcomes and lower costs for all.  

When you are literally on an island, innovation and actively listening to partners must be a part of your strategy. As the president and CEO of Child and Family Service on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Karen Tan focuses her organization on its mission to strengthen families and foster the healthy development of children. And as a licensed clinical social worker, she understands the challenges that must be met not only through current practices, but through establishing new partnerships with healthcare to test new, innovative programs.

Tan emphasizes that even trying to identify areas that could benefit from new approaches is challenging. “As we look at our community which is incredibly diverse, and multicultural, there’s no one-size that fits for anyone, and so we really are looking at how do we work together with the healthcare providers to address the needs of our community and at the same time understand that our community has so many different cultures,” explains Tan. However, that understanding can be a catalyst for innovation.

Currently, Child and Family Service is partnering with United Healthcare on reducing healthcare cost by identifying at-risk families through social determinants so they can be referred for services before needing acute care. However, for Child and Family Service, it becomes a leap of faith because there is no outside funding.  But that doesn’t concern Tan, “we know that it can drive future funding if they [United Healthcare] can prove that it works. And so, you have to lead the way in it … we all know it cognitively, but it’s important to express it and do it and test it and try it.,” said Tan.

To make this approach successful, Tan feels that the social service sector and healthcare must proactively work together for better results because the goal is the same – to serve and help the families and individuals within their communities. “There needs to be some interface between the two of us … but there’s really no clear way to do it yet. And so that’s why you have to have the leap of faith and you have to test and try, even if there’s no funding there, because it will prove itself, and we know it will work, and I think both sides cognitively know it will work,” said Tan. And by focusing on this innovative and united approach, Tan feels that both sides will be moving from a focus on contracts to one of relationships. 

Listen as Tan explains the need for innovative partnerships with healthcare, even if it means self-funding to prove new concepts can work in order to lay the groundwork for future, outside financial resources in Episode 16 of the  More than Health Care Podcast  available through the Alliance website or subscribe on the Apple Podcast, Google Play, or Spotify apps

About the Podcast

While many are realizing that collaboration and holistic approaches are the solution, the health care and human services sectors are struggling to find the right formula to realize the full potential. The More than Health Care podcast is designed to help organizations overcome barriers to partnerships resulting from cultural differences, financial pressures, and rules and regulations. 

In addition to showcasing inspiring examples of integration from across the country, featured experts will expose the myths, misconceptions, and shortcomings of efforts to address the social determinants of health through collaboration across sectors. 

This podcast is presented by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Ascentria Care Alliance, and Beech Acres Parenting Center. Cohosts Jill Huynh, vice president of new business development at Beech Acres, and Tim Johnstone, executive vice president of community services at Ascentria, work at the intersection of health and human services, bringing the expertise and practical experience to uncover key takeaways for improving health care and human services integration. 

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Learn more about the Alliance's efforts to improve population health and well-being.