Learning from SIM cohort 1

With almost a year of experience implementing the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM) in practices, more than 80 stakeholders gathered Jan. 18 to share ideas, identify challenges and open dialogue between insurance companies, SIM providers and practice transformation organizations that act as guides in the process.


SIM plans to host these stakeholder meetings four times per year with the hope of gathering as many people together as possible though there will be virtual attendance options for future meetings. The next event is scheduled for May 18 and we will share additional details in the coming weeks.

The inaugural event included presentations from the following state leaders, who praised the first SIM cohort for leading during difficult times and a willingness to change the status quo to improve the health and well-being of their patients by integrating behavioral health and primary care:

  • Donna Lynne, DrPH, Colorado Lieutenant Governor and Chief Operating Officer
  • Susan E. Birch, MBA, BSN, RN, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

“I think it’s important that we call out the work that you’re doing,” Lynne told attendees. “This is pioneering work—to use primary care in ways we have not done before, and we acknowledge the fact that being able to get behavioral health services where you get primary care is important.”

A SIM refresh
Barbara Martin, RN, MSN, ACNP-BC, MPH, SIM director, kicked off the event with detailed information about how the SIM office has learned from its first year of implementation, listened to and acted on feedback received from its stakeholders and is moving forward with a streamlined set of building blocks, which will be available soon, for cohort 2 to ensure a focused approach to integrating care that prepares SIM practices for future success with value-based payment models.

Martin committed to increased communication and a willingness to retool the program so that it delivers on the promises made, which secured the $65 million SIM initiative from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“We recognize that this first year of implementation has been challenging,” Martin said, “And we appreciate your willingness to stick with us as we reexamine and refine our initiative to meet our ambitious goals and improve the health of Coloradans through access to integrated care.”

Increased dialogue
The bulk of the meeting was dedicated to focused discussions among attendees, who were seated at tables of eight to encourage open dialogue among the representatives from insurance companies, providers and PTOs.

Participants were asked to write down ideas—concerns as well as hopes—for improvements in the following content buckets, which will be compiled by the SIM team for ongoing discussion:

  • Payment
  • Patient experience
  • Resources
  • Practice transformation
  • Social determinants of health
  • Data and evaluation
  • Communication
  • Achieving change
  • Integration
  • Burnout

The SIM team is starting to plan the next event, which is scheduled for May 18, and would welcome feedback from attendees. Please send your ideas and suggestions for future meetings to us so we can ensure meaningful discussion that propels SIM stakeholders along the integration continuum.