Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Collaborative Innovation for Better Early Childhood through the HV-COIIN

The Home Visiting program of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) helps parents and children of disadvantaged families to lay the groundwork for a better future for their children. As part of the Home Visiting program, MCHB has launched a Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (HV-COIIN).
This MIT video gives an overview about the use of COINs in healthcare. Among others, HV-COIIN draws on earlier experiences creating COINs from a project on Chronic Collaborative Care Networks (C3N) originally for patients with Crohn’s disease.

In the HV-COIN knowledge sharing of great ideas by home visitors and social workers is already happening in conference calls and on the  HV-COIN Web site which will provide an online forum where these ideas can be shared. However, to make the innovation process more sustainable, two issues need to be addressed:

(1) From sharing of ideas to implementation of ideas:
While home visitors from Local Implementing Agencies (LIAs) are presenting excellent solutions (a great recent example was using Google Calendar to coordinate visits to mothers), little is done to support the innovators in turning their ideas into solutions. This will entail setting up a project structure, and providing support for the innovators, and attracting volunteers to help the innovators to scale up their ideas.

(2) Coming up with breakthrough ideas
The ongoing process addresses the Improvement aspect of COIINs. This means the ideas coming up are of more incremental nature, such as for instance asking for breastfeeding rooms for young mothers at schools. To collect disruptive ideas we need to do more: reaching out to a broader audience, to bring in diverse backgrounds together, by teaming up LIA home visitors with students, or with professionals from seemingly unrelated professions. This can be done by running ideation sessions, or by setting up Webcasts and online forums for collecting far-out ideas.
Let me share a few ideas, which I collected from running my own, informal ideation sessions with colleagues and students.

1 - Create (video) peer communities of mothers: use iPads to set up video-skype such that mothers and home visitors can communicate from home, but still enjoy the energy and intimacy of face-to-face interaction.

2 - Set up “granny clubs” for reading to children age 2 months to three years using video skype, using donated books. This can e.g. be done by setting up granny clubs (these have already been pioneeded by Sugata Mitra, an Indian/British pioneer of minimally invasive education. These grannys will read books to kids over videoskype.

3 - Develop a data gathering app using smartphones for mothers, so the home visitors do not have to collect this statistical information anymore, removing a major burden of data collection from home visitors and social workers.

These ideas can be supported by students at seminars such as my COINs class at MIT/IIT/Cologne/Helsinki. These students are computer science, MBA, and design majors. In earlier seminars these students have already successfully worked in C3N and HV-COIIN projects.

More generally, a community to provide (technical) support for COINs in creating ideas could be established: set up a pool of (technical) volunteers assisting the trendsetters among the LIAs, a “COIN on COINs”.

I would love to hear your ideas?


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