How We Got Started


The Harlem Hospital Center murals were developed under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, created in 1935 for the support and employment of artists. Restorer Elizabeth-Kollings works on a WPA mural at Harlem Hospital, NYC.

Systems Thinking for Transformation

Skills in multi-team, and collaborative transformation were honed 25 years ago when Strategies for Tomorrow worked in the Midwest in manufacturing, economic development, education and human services. This was during the 1990’s when the manufacturing sector was downsizing locally and going global. The shift in the manufacturing sector drove changes in the other three sectors as economic development increased, education requirements changed, and new and more human services were needed to address the stress on families.

Planning during this period called for systems thinking at the organization and cross-organization levels. This was “ecosystem” thinking; an understanding of how the separate parts worked together as a system within each of the sectors and across sectors.

Representative clients included:

  1. Indiana Business Modernization and Technology Corporation – to restructure sectors of the auto industry in Indiana to create new jobs.
  2. The Polis Center at IUPUI – to help communities make informed decisions using place-based research using geographic tools.
  3. Greater Indianapolis Domestic Violence Network – to facilitate community-wide stakeholder planning to address the issues and solutions to reduce domestic violence.
  4. Intecare, Inc. – to do multi-organization planning to start this non-profit health care management organization serving multiple behavioral health organizations in the region.

50 Visionary Physicians

SFT accelerated its interest in health care transformation path in 2000 when Strategies for Tomorrow facilitated a visioning session with 50 forward thinking physicians to transform how health care was delivered in Central Indiana. None of the physicians had a background in information technology and only a few used EMRs. Yet, they recognized that, if data wasn’t exchanged electronically between the hospitals and doctors, their vision of health care transformation would never be realized. They saw electronic data exchange as an essential utility. With an initial grant from the Marion County Public Health Department, the physicians formed ICareConnect  and Camilla Hull Brown became the Executive Director. The goal was to mobilize physicians and hospitals to exchange electronic data. Within a couple of years, multiple parties in the region pulled together to form Indiana Health Information Exchange, one of the largest HIEs in the country today.

Growth and Change Lead by Physicians

Subsequently, physicians in other communities in the Midwest heard about the experience in Indianapolis, and Camilla began consulting to physicians elsewhere to help mobilize physicians and hospitals in their regions. Some of the successful early efforts were MHIN in South Bend, HealthLINC in Bloomington, Indiana, and SHIE in Springfield, Ohio that is now a part of the HIE in Dayton, Ohio. Thus began a journey toward health and health care transformation starting with health information exchange. Since those early years, the SFT consulting team has helped over 20 HIEs across the country launch or grow.