John Marcille

John Marcille

Last month we published a theme issue on wellness and swore: “Never again.” Not because we weren’t happy with the results (we were), but because there’s an inherent danger in such undertakings: If the reader isn’t interested in the theme, he might lay the entire publication aside. Of course, you live and you learn, and February’s issue also included two articles and a host of columns that had nothing to do with wellness. There’s something for everyone.

This month, as we assembled and edited the disparate articles, we found — a theme. It snuck up on us. This theme is about collaboration. You can find it in our cover story about what makes Harvard Pilgrim Health Care so exemplary. HPHC operates in a tough neighborhood where several of the insurers score high in national ranking systems. It’s competitive, but not so much so that those companies won’t cooperate on some things.

“When you think about the fact that health plans are willing to come together in a collaborative and share their data across health plans so that we can get more reliable performance information, that’s really huge. They do that here,” Barbra Rabson, executive director of the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners, told us.

Then there’s our story about how some of the largest HMOs in the country are cooperating in a research network, sharing their own data for the larger good. Cooperatives such as the HMO Research Network will benefit the entire medical system.

The ideas of cooperation and collaboration crop up elsewhere as well, but not in a heavy-handed way. We have health care companies working with employers, for example. But don’t despair! We also have conflict galore. As I said, there’s something for everyone.