Better Data Means Better Healthcare, Enhanced Patient Engagement and Improved Outcomes for U.S. Healthcare System

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By Reed Hartley, Executive Director, Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation (TLI) 

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of measuring advances in improved patient outcomes, optimized economic efficiency for health care delivery and enhanced resilience to the threats of pandemics or crises in difficult times. 

Leaders throughout the healthcare and related business ecosystem have begun to partner with thought leadership and innovation experts to help them think through complex, highly challenging issues. These experts tackle problems at the community, regional and national levels, deriving innovation from data and measuring improvement for the benefit of every stakeholder across a number of critical healthcare areas. 

A number of key factors serve as levers that create a tremendous need for healthcare innovation and thought leadership including deaths of despair, such as suicide, drug overdose and alcoholism. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, affect people’s ability to participate in health-promoting behaviors. Health disparities related to race and ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and orientation, and disability status all require innovation solutions. COVID has only increased the number of economically disadvantaged people, exacerbating all of these issues, while the rise in the nation’s elderly continues.

Data + Innovation = Improved Patient Outcomes

As a critical foundation to improving patient outcomes, data informs and drives individualized care, which has become essential as the U.S. health system shifts toward personalized medicine. Innovation around research, testing, new types of data—and more engaged patients—sets the stage for a well distributed approach to health care information.


A growing number of federal, commercial and global organizations have implemented strategies that help patient populations struggling to find better healthcare outcomes across the country and around the world. When grounded in data, innovation can lead to improved prevention, treatment and outcomes for those facing life-altering medical diagnoses.

One key lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic: more individualized care is essential for underserved patient populations that are too often overlooked. To get the most out of innovation in healthcare and improve patient outcomes, health care organizations need a data driven, patient focused set of actions to effect real change.

Finding the Right Thought Leadership and Innovation Partner

Given today’s challenges, a growing number of healthcare executives feel overwhelmed about addressing difficult problems in their organization or community. They require data-gathering and deep analysis to determine the true nature of today’s challenges and how to tackle them. For many, the best option is to partner with an innovation expert that has a track record for delivering meaningful change that results in better healthcare outcomes across communities, regions and the world. 

Guided by experienced leadership, a partner should serve not simply as a think tank, but rather a change agent that designs data analysis tools and implements collaborative programs with intent, process, diligence and broadmindedness. Effective thought leadership and innovation partners focus on carefully thinking and innovating in a coordinated fashion, always aware that second and third order consequences can be devastating, despite good intentions. Opportunity lies in remaining persistent and building programs and performance measures that lead to genuine transformation.

This April is the first national Healthcare Thought Leadership & Innovation Foundation Awareness Month in the Health Observances & Recognition Days calendar published by The Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD), part of the American Hospital Association (AHA). This observance provides an opportunity for stakeholders in the healthcare continuum to share new and innovative programs and ideas that lead to transformative change in healthcare. 

Look for a partner that offers these critical components:

Innovation Hub: A pipeline of innovation projects and a product/service line development team responsible for identifying technology partners, stitching technologies and methodologies together for robust solutions and developing service lines and internal tools.

Collaborative Model: This hybrid model brings together relevant groups and stakeholders – especially those who have not traditionally been included – to overcome the deep societal challenges related to health and well-being that currently threaten to undermine the nation’s communities.

Data Analytics Toolset: A comprehensive toolset, implemented in planned phases, benefits the participating organizations and establishes a governance mechanism to provide ongoing oversight.

Clinical Research: Superfunds dedicated to research and implementation of innovative technologies to advance understanding of diseases, as well as the relationship between chronic infection and chronic illness, increase diagnostic capabilities and healthcare redesign to achieve improved patient functionality and outcomes.

The best thought leadership and innovation partner understands that data should not simply be about new technologies, but also an architecture and design to better engage patients for richer, more outcome-focused data sets that help redesign patient care.

Recognized as an experienced leader with repeated success growing non-profit organizations in both domestic and international markets, Hartley brings new opportunities and an integrated approach to strategic planning, effective communications, robust financial and fundraising strategies, and trusting partnerships,  

He plays a pivotal role in leading TLI to drive better health, education and economic empowerment in communities worldwide, with projects that span research and measurement, analytics, technology, community collaboratives and an Innovation Hub.

A consensus builder, he unites teams by fostering a culture of collaboration and innovative thinking, working internally across the organization, as well as with external partner networks to achieve organizational and partner objectives. He has the expertise to perform assessments of the competitive landscape, design marketing campaigns that trigger growth of new revenue streams and expand client and donor bases. 

Prior to joining TLI, Hartley served as executive director, Mid-Atlantic-ALSAC, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he grew the corporate and individual donor base, funding research and treatment of childhood cancer. 

He has also served as executive director, Free Wheelchair Mission, where he led all fundraising and operations to provide wheelchairs to individuals in need through programs involving multiple partners in 50 developing countries. 

Notably, he was vice president, Development for Western US, Opportunity International, where he led efforts to champion and provide economic opportunities and mitigate poverty for disenfranchised populations in Africa, Asia and South America. 

He earned a Bachelor of Arts (with Distinction) in Foreign Affairs, Latin American Studies, from the University of Virginia. 

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