Rethinking Community Health Systems | Q&A with Jill Miller

bi3, a dedicated grantmaking initiative created to transform healthcare in Greater Cincinnati, is partnering with Cintrifuse’s Spry Labs in an effort to rethink how health systems and corporations measure community benefit impact.

Earlier this year, bi3 and Spry Labs launched Benny, a digital health solution that allows health systems and corporations track, plan and measure the impact of community outreach programs.  Benny helps organizations tell an accurate data-driven story with metrics that matter.

Cintrifuse and Spry Labs’ involvement with Bethesda Inc. would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of Jill Miller, President of Bethesda Inc., who has proven that innovation is at the core of their strategic positioning in the Greater Cincinnati region.

Miller looks for unique positions to fund innovative partnerships that position TriHealth and the region as a leader in population health. With tools and initiatives similar to Benny, Bethesda Inc. and Spry Labs’ collaborative efforts are proving that the synergy of innovative-thinking groups are making an impact.

Cintrifuse and Spry Labs recently sat down with Miller to discuss the partnership, their role in the region and future plans with our Spry Labs team.  


Tell us about bi3. How does it build on what the teams at TriHealth and Bethesda have offered in th?

Jill Miller: Bethesda Inc. is a major funder of health transformation and co-sponsor, or a parent organization, of TriHealth. bi3 doesn’t replace Bethesda Inc. It is our forward-looking grantmaking initiative to transform health for all people in Greater Cincinnati.

We decided to brand our grantmaking work to better differentiate and position us to create and fund collaborations and partnerships that lead to breakthrough change in health and health care and that have the potential to spark and scale health innovation. ‘bi3’ honors Bethesda Inc.’s heritage of innovation and recognizes our grantmaking initiative builds on three pillars — ideas, investments and innovation.

So now what? What’s the future look like for bi3?

Miller: bi3 builds on Bethesda Inc.’s learnings and past successes by focusing on four key funding priorities: maternal and infant health, behavioral health, palliative and hospice care, and health innovations that are fueled by new technologies or accelerate the integration of care.

We believe that success is the result of an intentional, planned effort with a clear, shared outcome in mind. Our experience strongly suggests that successful initiatives:

  • Create new, sustainable models of care; we know that old models are broken;
  • Integrate both medical and community resources because good health has no boundaries;
  • Address social determinants of health not simply seek a medical solution;
  • Leverage resources and dollars from others with shared interests; and
  • Involve strong leaders and champions with the passion, perspective and perseverance to drive an issue to a successful outcome.

Innovation can be a crowded space. How did you make the decision to work with Spry Labs?

Miller: bi3 is one of the funders that helped establish Spry Labs. We recognized the need for our region to have an incubator/accelerator expressly dedicated to creating new technologies to solve health challenges.

Spry Labs offered the opportunity for TriHealth to design, build and pilot a mobile application (nicknamed “Benny”) to address the challenges nonprofit health care systems face with regards to tracking, measuring and analyzing community benefit (free and discounted care and services) that directly address important community health needs.

Now in the pilot phase, we believe Benny has the potential to provide employees a quick, intuitive and convenient way to track time as it relates to community benefit activities and allow TriHealth to better measure its contributions and how that work has a beneficial impact on community health issues. We also hope that Benny can be exported to help other health systems in the future in Cincinnati and across the country.

Does your relationship with TriHealth help build new and innovative solutions?

Miller: Because Bethesda Inc. is co-sponsor of TriHealth, bi3 is uniquely positioned to create and fund collaborations between TriHealth and community-based organizations. As a result, bi3-funded programs have the potential to pilot and scale more rapidly. Benny was developed in partnership with a cross-section of TriHealth leaders and is being piloted at Bethesda Butler Hospital. The speed from concept to pilot (just a few months) would not otherwise have been possible.

If you could look out over the horizon, what’s in store for bi3 in the future?

Miller: In the short-term, successful projects will measurably result in improved health outcomes, better care and/or lower costs. In the long-term, transformational projects will lead to sustainable systems change and community-based culture change. Bi3 grants lead to transformation by acting as a stimulus for new ideas and practices, supporting innovation within TriHealth, and leveraging complementary efforts and funding, leading to improved community health.

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