Higher Thinking

Quick, timely blog posts. Thought-provoking trends. How-to guides and in-depth case studies. Use this page to explore all of our best thinking on US healthcare delivery, plus the occasional news from our firm. Find something that inspires or troubles you? Contact us any time – we’d love to be your thought partner in delivering more accessible, sustainable, and equitable healthcare. >>

A swan is reflected on the surface of a calm lake

Moving Beyond the SWOT in Health Equity

In a health equity assessment, your only real "competition" is the status quo – so you need to think differently about your SWOT
Patricia Dowbiggin and her husband at Niagara Falls

Meet the Team: Patricia Dowbiggin

Our strategy consultant discusses her background in EMS, her burden for rural healthcare ... and her love of the outdoors.
Dollars and healthcare items scattered on a light blue background. Photo by Anastasiia Gudantova.

Total Cost of Care: Lessons from the Maryland Model

A Maryland expert shares her experience with total cost of care as CMS pushes other states to consider the approach.
Crumpled paper next to a paper airplane illustrates the concept of CMS's new AHEAD model.

Can a New CMS Model Move Healthcare Transformation AHEAD?

Thoughts on the newest CMS model, based on our deep expertise with Maryland's TCOC model.
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Ascendient’s Guide to the Maryland Model and the Path AHEAD

Maryland's experiment with Total Cost of Care offers a glimpse of the future for states considering the new AHEAD model from CMS.
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Public Health Strategic Planning: the Ascendient Guide

Where are we? Who are we? Where are we going? Those three questions are the key to public health strategic planning in a time of turmoil.
3 volunteers offering food & medicine illustrate the idea of hospital community benefit guidelines

Hospital Community Benefit Rules: Changes Ahead

From state capitals to Washington DC, hospitals face mounting pressure to justify their tax exemption. Here are 3 things to do right now.
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Public Health Workforce Strategies: the Ascendient Guide

All of healthcare is facing workforce issues, but public health may have it worst of all. We outline a few strategies, both near- and long term.
A carved wooden hand holds up a leaning tree, illustrating the need to support public health professional staff. Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash.

A Supportive Solution for Public Health Burnout

See why better administrative support may be the key to reducing burnout among professional staff in local health departments.
A public health professional with a pink stethoscope around his neck immunizes a woman wearing a blue shirt

The Future of Public Health: 5 Questions for the Experts

Two experts from the de Beaumont Foundation share their views on the future public health, based on their landmark study.
McLeod Health CEO Donna Isgett discusses her experience with Ascendient's Healthytown model for strategic planning

Healthcare Transformation Consulting: A CEO Testimonial

Donna Isgett, CEO of McLeod Health, discusses the growing momentum of healthcare transformation...

Steering Two Competing Systems Toward a Population Health Center

In one rural market, we created a blueprint for cooperation rather than unsustainable competition between failing providers.
A lone orange chair in an empty room illustrates the issue faced by rural hospitals with too many unused inpatient rooms

3 Ways to “Upcycle” Those Unused Inpatient Hospital Rooms

There's likely to be a glut of unused inpatient hospital rooms when REH status picks up steam. Here are 3 ways to put those rooms to use.

Community Health Assessments: Taking a Collective Approach

How a county-wide CHA process helped save money, broaden public participation, and build alignment among providers.
Wooden pews with red cushions illustrate the idea that churches can help to make primary care more accessible

How a Church-Based Clinic Is Making Primary Care More Accessible

Accessible primary care is a key to population health. Community assets like churches & schools might be the best way to meet the need.
A nighttime view into a dimly lit pharmacy

Debating the Role of Pharmacy in Healthcare Transformation

Thanks to their ubiquity and familiarity, pharmacies can play an important role in healthcare transformation – if policymakers allow them to.
Stylized skyscrapers form a bar chart, illustrating the concept of public health strategic planning

Public Health Strategic Planning: Don’t Skimp on the SWOT

A good SWOT analysis is foundational to public health strategic planning. Here's a step-by-step guide for doing it right.
An orange sunset lights up a country road and a nearby water tower – a metaphor for the coming darkness in rural healthcare

Reconfiguring Rural Healthcare Access

"Saving" hospitals isn't the lone solution for struggling communities. Instead, think about prioritizing services for rural healthcare access.

Mobile Integrated Healthcare: A Valuable Tool for Healthcare Transformation

Bolstered by CMS payment incentives, mobile integrated healthcare is reducing ED visits and improving population health.

The Maryland Model (Part 3): Lessons Learned from Maryland’s Payment Models

Maryland's experiment with healthcare transformation has been encouraging but not perfect. Here are some of the biggest lessons learned.