Originally published in Collaborative Health Network’s #HealthDoers Monthly Newsletter, July 2016 issue
Interview with: Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

Click the image to watch Linda share her story
You’ve probably heard the saying from the late Tip O’Neill, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, that, “All politics is local.” Many would argue the same is true for health and healthcare in that we all want advice and care from someone we know and trust. With this in mind, the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is enlisting powerful allies in its effort to engage patients and communities in their own health. “We are a very locally controlled people,” says Linda. “We have 565 or so mayors across New Jersey. We’ve found they are very eager to improve the quality of health in their communities.”

Inspired by a report from the Institute of Medicine on leadership and how true leadership drives change, the Quality Institute approached mayors across the state to help engage patients and community influencers through the Mayors Wellness Campaign. Initially, the Quality Institute asked mayors to participate in events and programs that offered advice, practical tips and information on things like healthy eating, preparing nutritious, affordable food and where to find safe places to work out.

In her story, Schwimmer highlights a newly launched initiative within the Wellness Campaign around the development of a social services App that allows healthcare providers to electronically refer patients to the social services in their area and create easy follow up to ensure patients received the services they need.

Mayors all over New Jersey have not only participated in the Mayors Wellness Campaign, but have made such efforts essential parts of their community involvement. Now in its tenth year, the program has grown and is addressing issues such as health insurance literacy and end-of-life care.

“To connect this back to advanced payment models/payment reform,” says Schwimmer“physicians are actually being paid now to have these conversations for things like nutrition and end-of-life care. By having mayors involved, we are hoping to have a direct impact on policy and commercial products in addition to improved community and individual health.”

Click on the video image above to watch Linda share her story and see the photos below of additional efforts of the Mayors Wellness Campaign