We are well past the first month of the new year, which has me reflecting on some of the challenges and transitions that ImproveCareNow faced as a network and community over the past year. Twenty-twenty is like no other year that I can remember. And while it presented us with many new obstacles as we struggled together to navigate a global pandemic, it also shone a light on inherent disparities and highlighted some of the opportunities waiting to be addressed in our systems. 

Looking back, I have been giving thanks for ImproveCareNow and all that has been accomplished during its 13 year journey. Our vibrant community of people comprising of clinicians, researchers, patients, parents/caregivers, collaborators and friends is not only warm and welcoming (some say it feels like family), but also generous and hard-working (and as 2020 taught us, extremely resilient). In ImproveCareNow, each person brings their unique experience, perspective, knowledge and know-how to the table, and together we work toward our shared mission of transforming the health, care and costs for all children and adolescents with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD). While 2020 definitely tested us, I watched with awe as our community pivoted and adjusted course, supported and learned from each other and moved forward with strength and purpose.

To date, we have over 100 participating care centers spanning three continents. These dedicated teams of IBD care providers choose to be here, and are committed to raising the bar on the standard of care for pediatric IBD. In response to the pandemic many of our operations - both locally and nationally - needed to shift in service of keeping people safe and healthy and doing our part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In March 2020, ImproveCareNow staff pivoted in-person Community Conferences to a Live Online format that enabled us to continue bringing participating care teams, patients & parents together for learning and collaboration - to build momentum and find new ways to improve together. I was excited to watch as this new online format made it possible for many more people to join us - to all teach and all learn - at these events. Live Online Community Conferences have allowed us to share the work of ImproveCareNow with many more and hopefully engage new care providers, patients and families in our work.

Locally, teams responded to the pandemic by rapidly shifting in-person health care interactions to virtual or telehealth modalities. As teams began reopening their clinics safely, they came together through the ICN Learning Lab framework to share best practices so other teams could learn from their experience.

The challenges we faced together required us to be resilient and adapt to the changing conditions in our lives, communities and our world. The responses I witnessed, and am still witnessing, prove to me that we are better when we work together! As we look to the future, we will be re-energizing and re-chartering new directions. Drawing on our strong foundation of quality improvement science and collaboration, we will expand ImproveCareNow with new initiatives and opportunities re-envisioning our approach to population health and pre-visit planning, and adding value for staff, patients and families, including:

💚 completing an ICN Registry update and migration

💙 focusing on leadership development

💚 actively pursuing diversity and equity

💙 ensuring financial sustainability

💚 building relationships with industry partners (CREATE Initiative, REALITI study)

💙 launching autoimmune liver disease Learning Lab and surgery collaborative node

We will harness our collective energy and leverage diverse participation into strategic planning and initiatives that can help us continue to pursue our mission, while remaining true to our values and our commitment to keeping the patient and family perspective front and center in our work. Our patients and parents provide hope for the future and drive our determination to do good by them, for them and with them! 


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