The Health Improvement Organization (HIO) is a collaborative of local stakeholders in Jackson County committed to improving population health through an integrated community-based infrastructure. The HIO Community Action Plan guides the work of more than 30 partner organizations to lead Jackson County residents towards healthy behavior change. The HIO is supported by the efforts of hundreds of individuals in Jackson County who are committed to solving the complex social problems that face our population.
Strategies for community improvement are often centered on problem-specific solutions. Emphasis is placed on well defined evidence-based strategies to affect individual health issues: obesity, diabetes, stroke, etc. Funding is often used for short-term isolated interventions, with money typically going to specific program activities and little left to the discretion of program coordinators. This model invests in predetermined solutions without acknowledging the complexity of social change or the value of locally driven, long-term solutions.
The Health Improvement Organization (HIO) is working on a different approach to community change. Based on the collective impact model defined by John Kania and Mark Kramer, the HIO is investing significant time and energy to create a structure that can support community-wide systems change. Yes, the HIO is working to improve specific health outcomes. But this work is being done while simultaneously creating a long term strategy that defines the relationships and behaviors that ensure progress will continue for years to come.
The work of the HIO does not focus only on quick wins. It requires long-term commitments of time, money and resources from organizations and community leaders. The solutions to complex social problems must grow and evolve just as the root causes of such problems do. In this framework, the process is the solution. Any one program is just a small piece of a matrix of networks and processes that serve the best interests of Jackson County. Whether in education, health, or economic development, the structure in which multiple groups can work together to affect change is the same. The focus then shifts from the what (obesity, reading levels, income), to the how. How can we build systems that are efficient and sustainable; that are both proactive and nimble enough to react to the local environment; that focus on relationships and shared accountability; that serve a common goal measured by shared metrics?
The HIO is proud to join in this work with many tireless, hard working visionaries devoted to the future of Jackson County.