I was delighted to have time to join the ImproveCareNow Live Online Community Conference earlier this month, about 1.5 years after leaving my role as Improvement Director. What a delight to watch this group of improvers rise to the occasion as never before, bringing hundreds of people across the globe together under challenging circumstances, all while understandably mourning the ability to be together in person as planned.

When I was a day-to-day part of ImproveCareNow, it always struck me just how much this learning health network had become a community. When we first started describing it that way, it felt a bit odd. How can a bunch of doctors, nurses, patients, and others from across the country be a "community?" As we broke down that word though, it became clearer:

💚 Communities have stories

💙 Communities grow

💚 Communities are made up of smaller communities

💙 Communities learn together

💚 Communities celebrate each other

But there are some other words to describe communities that went through my head as I listened to the great progress underway in ImproveCareNow during the online conference. For one thing, communities are resilient. The staff who pulled off this amazing virtual conference are among the most resilient I know. They had extraordinarily little time to transform plans for an in-person event into a virtual one, but from an observer’s vantage point, one would have assumed it was the plan from the start. The speakers too were as compelling as they would have been in person, not having let the new plans faze them. 

And the best communities are welcoming--to everyone from newcomers to those who have long since moved on. While I listened in at various times throughout the day, former colleagues' names (including many who, like me, have moved on to other roles but dropped in just for the occasion) popped up in the chat box and greeted one another warmly and with their ever-present sense of humor. It truly felt like a mini-family reunion, a bit like coming home for a long-anticipated visit. 

The mutual respect and memories and experience of shared challenges and successes bind together so many who have called ImproveCareNow "home" at one time or another since 2007. Most of us who have moved on are in roles that allow us to continue to help support improvements in health and care for many, and we have taken with us the very best of what ImproveCareNow taught us. I am so proud to see what the ImproveCareNow community continues to become. And it was clear listening in that day that 12-plus years in, it is still only the beginning.

Stay safe friends and keep doing amazing things. There are so many cheering you on from afar!

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