Improving the health of communities through collaboration
The Independent Health Network (IHN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting improvement of health outcomes through population health efforts and technology enhancements across three states (Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas). The IHN was formed in 2015 by members of Prairie Health Ventures (PHV) to provide additional nonprofit support to members and is operated independently of PHV.
NPG Health Collaborative, LLC (NPG Health) is managed by Prairie Health Ventures and was formed in 2016 as a separate legal entity to apply for the CMS Medicare Shared Savings Program. NPG Health is a collaboration of hospitals, rural health clinics and providers located in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. The goal of the NPG Health Collaborative is to improve the health and wellness of our communities by improving the quality of care and patient satisfaction, increasing preventive health and wellness alternatives, and decreasing the cost of healthcare for our Medicare patients.
By merging together efforts of Prairie Health Ventures, the Independent Health Network and NPG Health Collaborative LLC (both managed by Prairie Health Ventures), we are expanding on work accomplished by NPG Health by implementing a Rural Population Health Network – taking similar concepts that are currently utilized by Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s), and utilizing them in a non-ACO Rural Population Health program. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) are uniquely positioned to work with their patient populations, their communities and their local healthcare partners, or “neighborhoods” (including Specialists, Nursing Homes, Home Health Agencies, Public Health departments, and local EMS), to improve the overall health of their regions – while better managing the cost of health care services. Coordination at all levels helps demonstrate to payers that rural healthcare communities understand their unique needs and challenges, and can work together to effectively manage the quality and cost of healthcare.
Founded in 2015, the IHN consortium became operational in 2017. Access was expanded to independent hospitals with a statewide, diverse path 10 Gbps network that delivers a minimum of 100 Mbps to any not-for-profit hospitals in the region.
Leveraging broadband technology supports our members’ visions and powers their success. High bandwidth, low latency private network connectivity is the cornerstone of future technology-based healthcare services. Rural hospitals should have a connection that is at least 100 Mbps, application and vendor-neutral, and connected to other networks in the region.
Previously IHN helped 12 hospitals improve connectivity with the Rural Nebraska Health Network (RNHN) Eastern Expansion.
The Independent Health Network Phase 1 project brought on an additional 29 hospitals serving as either hubs or edge locations. We currently have a cross connection to the fiber-based RNHN based in Scottsbluff and have hubs at UNMC, Bryan, and CHI Nebraska. Capability exists to provide Layer 2 connections to the largest medical organizations in the region. Internet access is redundant and diverse – supported by a NebraskaLink connection in Omaha and Allo in North Platte.
KEY IHN ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Fully managed cross connection to the RNHN to support disaster recovery and future needs
- Enhanced relationships with regional telecom carriers to explore improving rural connectivity and opportunities for more collaboration and new revenue
- Joined the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) which provides IHN a national anchor institution peer group for advocacy, networking, and education
- Participated in the Nebraska State Telemedicine Network redesign
WHAT TO EXPECT MOVING FORWARD
- Add redundant internet capability to the network
- Explore diverse career pathways to deliver true resiliency
- Add cloud-based video teleconferencing as a service
- Further develop hub site relationships
- Expand peer network relationships throughout region