By Iliana White, MPH
Senior Program Manager, Adolescent Health, AMCHP
How can we ensure adolescents receive annual well-visits and preventive services? How can we address the unique developmental and health-related needs of young adults transitioning from adolescence? In what ways can we rapidly improve the quality of preventive services for adolescents and young adults? These are three overarching questions that cascaded over the numerous activities during the in-person launch of the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (AYAH CoIIN). Funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), the AYAH CoIIN aims to identify and implement evidence-based strategies to increase the access and quality of preventive health care visits for adolescents and young adults. In late September, the AMCHP child & adolescent health team and its partners under the Adolescent & Young Adult Health National Resource Center hosted a two-day meeting that took place in Rockville, MD, which included project officers and leadership from MCHB, experts from the National Resource Center, faculty from the University of Michigan Adolescent Health Initiative, and staff from Young Invincibles. The goal of the summit was to facilitate collaborative learning and peer sharing through sessions on collective impact, quality improvement models for public health, and comprehensive approaches to improve access to and quality of care for AYA preventive visits.
Interdisciplinary teams from five states (Iowa, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and Vermont) were engaged in interactive activities and action planning focused on increasing access to preventive services, ensuring AYA-appropriate service delivery, and high-quality clinical practice for these distinct populations. Team members included MCH/Title V leaders, state adolescent health coordinators, medical providers, Medicaid/payer representatives, medical providers, quality improvement advisors, epidemiologists, community organization representatives, and youth advocates and leaders themselves. For many of them, this marked the first time they have partnered with one another in this fashion to advance adolescent and young adult health across their state.
Throughout the two days, AYAH National Resource Center staff provided key content on issues influencing access and quality of services, including developmental differences between adolescents and young adults, opportunities allotted as a result of the Affordable Care Act, and similarities between applying quality improvement (QI) methods in public health and health care delivery settings. States had the opportunity to share the current landscape of access and quality for AYAs in their communities, as well as express their motivation and goals for the CoIIN. Teams also were guided to apply the content learned from the faculty presentations into state-level strategies to increase utilization of preventive services and improve the quality of the clinical encounters for youth. Another key highlight of the summit was the series of presentations facilitated by the youth advocates and leaders, many of whom are still in high school or college. The youth candidly shared effective ways to engage and empower AYAs to advocate for their healthcare, as well as how to make the service delivery and setting more appropriate and inviting to their needs.
Participating states have been carrying the momentum of the summit forward, working alongside National Resource Center staff, to implement the lessons learned into their state-level projects.