Written by: Veenu Aulakh

This week I had an opportunity to visit the Chapa-De Indian Health Center for the first time. Chapa-De is really practicing many of the concepts we have been highlighting in our efforts to support patient-centered, value-based care. I was so impressed, I want to share a few highlights with you.

What stood out most to me was the serene feeling I had while touring the facility. Chapa-De has created a healing setting that is both beautiful and welcoming. The main medical clinic’s waiting area is modeled after a Native American lodge with warm wood, lots of light, and a calming environment. It doesn’t have the atmosphere of your typical clinic, which can be sterile and frenetic. It feels like a place that you really want to be.

The staff at Chapa-De have also created a one-stop clinic that is able to serve all their patients’ needs. They have an impressive dental facility with more than 20 chairs, a wellness center, a pharmacy that can serve up to 80 percent of patients’ needs, optometry services, a robust prenatal program, and an array of classes around pain management, nutrition, and diabetes prevention. The clinic has created “pods,” where staff are truly practicing team care by integrating both behavioral health clinicians and pharmacists.

It can be tough to make the time to break out of our day-to-day operations and back-to-back meetings. However, when I do make time to visit the health centers we support, I’m ALWAYS glad I did.

There is so much to be learned through first-hand experiences. Reading papers and watching PowerPoint presentations often can’t capture the essence of what truly creates patient-centered care. I continue to be a big fan of experiencing another organization’s approach to how to create a positive environment for both patients and staff.

At our next Safety Net Innovation Network (SNIN) meeting in November we are going to create an opportunity for our attendees to experience the innerworkings of organizations facing very similar challenges – but outside of health care. By showing you analogous settings, we hope to give you some fresh perspectives on the design problems you’re working on. The idea is that if you can get outside of your usual context and into new situations, it will spur creative thinking. It’s a concept we stole from our friends at the Innovation Learning Network, which calls them “innovation safaris.”

Just as Chapa-De taught me how to create a healing environment, there is a lot we can learn from companies like Facebook, which is empowering its users to build communities, and Adaptive Path, which is creating environments that foster creativity.

I would love to hear from you about what organizations you think CCI should reach out to and organize analogous site visits. What workplaces do you think we can collectively learn from to improve care and health for the communities we serve?