critical thinking
to clarify complex issues


At LHF, we bring a unique consulting approach that promotes critical thinking to clarify complex issues and maximize our clients’ capabilities. Our consultants have a proven track record of helping clients navigate critical transitions and elevate organizational performance.

"We are now wedded to LHF after utilizing LHF’s talents and organizational skills to move our board of directors in a professional direction."

Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning

Leaders from several free clinics across Illinois were considering establishing a state association in response to the ACA, to speak with one voice at all government levels, and to leverage their resources to respond to health reform. LHF designed and implemented a comprehensive strategic planning process including internal and external assessments, a statewide quantitative clinic survey, focus groups of external stakeholders, and analysis of the potential impact of the ACA on free clinics. In collaboration with the Steering Committee, LHF developed a recommendation for a strategic plan including measurable outcomes and sustainable financial plan. Recommendations were endorsed by leaders from free clinics at a statewide meeting, and the association was poised to seek funding and launch a new chapter.

“Leading Healthy Futures provided sound leadership in strategic planning, operations and fundraising during the startup phase of our new trade association. Their efforts were directly responsible for the reinstatement of the agency’s not-for-profit status and over $250,000 in new fund development.”
– Jim Zimmerman, 2012 Board Chair, Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics

Organizational Assessment

A Catholic hospital’s primary care facility, which included a family practice residency, was performing below expectations in financial, clinical and operational outcomes. The primary care facility’s leadership lacked capacity and was not prepared to meet the challenges of healthcare reform. Previously unsuccessful attempts to resolve these issues led to the engagement of LHF, tasked with creating an environment receptive to change. LHF conducted qualitative and quantitative assessments, won primary care leaders over to a new vision and charted a course forward. LHF’s recommended action plans were endorsed by physician leaders and hospital executive management, and approved for implementation by the hospital board. LHF successfully implemented initial stages of change and transitioned leadership to the newly hired executive director. Results included rapid improvements in patient experience, provider productivity and financial performance.

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Program Planning

New Service Delivery Opportunities

A public library had established “conversation circles,” engaging the immigrant Latino population to promote literacy, community education and engagement of civic and social services. Population needs assessments had highlighted the importance of teaching the uninsured how to access health services, and of developing practical referral pathways between emergency rooms, primary care and social services. LHF uncovered the opportunity for the library conversation circles to teach health access literacy, and for the library to deepen its role as a referral partner in the health and social service safety net. LHF worked with the library and other service organizations to define a collaborative, multi-organizational approach to health literacy and facilitate improved access to care at the right time at the right place. LHF wrote the initial grant application, developed an inter-organizational budget and led the project, which received the required funding and is being implemented.

“The LHF team brought an organized, participatory approach to help us answer complicated questions and make important decisions. We emerged with a shared vision and a new organization with tremendous potential.” - Richard Lee, Executive Director, Waukegan Public Library

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Grant Acquisition

Securing Private Foundation Support

A statewide association of free clinics needed to develop a broad base of foundation support and secure at least $150,000 for its second year of operations. LHF developed a comprehensive prospect report with more than 120 foundation entries. In a period of nine months, LHF cultivated numerous relationships, submitted applications to more than 15 foundations and secured more than $300,000 for the second year of operations, leading to a tripling of the previous year’s operating budget.

Serving as Outsourced Grants Department

The foundation of a major hospital lacked an internal grants team to secure private foundation support. LHF was hired to serve as an outsourced grants department and help conceive of and design new programs for the hospital as part of the grantwriting process. In one year, LHF identified over 80 appropriate prospects, submitted applications to 25, and secured over $900,000 in commitments for the subsequent three years. Not only did this revenue help to sustain existing programs, but brand new programs to increase access to care were developed and successfully initiated as a result of new grants.

Federal Grant Awards for New FQHC Status

A behavioral and mental health center working with immigrant communities wanted to become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in order to offer more comprehensive primary and medical care to its constituents. In order to do so, it would need to build new facilities, hire primary care providers and other health care professionals, and create infrastructure to deliver medical services. LHF worked over three months to prepare a HRSA New Access Point (NAP) application for their two sites to become FQHCs. In November 2013, the center was awarded the NAP in the amount of $650,000 annually for its newly approved FQHC sites, and have since been able to build and open two health centers.

Federal Grant Awards for Opening Additional Clinic Sites

A large FQHC intended to open a new site to serve the significant needs facing that neighborhood’s population. It required new funds to establish a new site, hire staff, and begin service delivery. It had applied for a HRSA New Access Point (NAP) grant in the past but had not received it. For a better chance at success, LHF was hired to prepare its 2015 NAP application, and this time, the award was won.

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Fostering Collaboration

Formation of Strategic Collaboration

A community foundation had identified significant opportunities to improve the effectiveness of human service delivery in its region. With the aim of increasing the impact of community-wide philanthropic investment, a task force of grantees had been convened to define long-term sustainable solutions and a path to implementation. LHF researched models of non-profit collaboration from across the country and facilitated a series of task force decisions that led to a broadly-supported, financially viable organization dedicated to improving the delivery of human services. Strategic priorities include the promotion of inter-organizational collaboration, advocacy for human services, and enabling the delivery of innovative, sustainable programs and accessible services.

“LHF enabled our collaboration to move from concept to reality”.
- Laurel Tustison, 2012 Board Chair, Lake County Alliance for Human Services

Governing Structure Development and Establishment of a 501c3

A community coalition was planning to form a 501c3, and needed to form a governing board with strategic, financial, and planning authority. LHF presented multiple options for board structure and principles of governance to achieve a smaller board with a sustained level of individual engagement. LHF facilitated discussions to determine the board structure and procedures to elect the first board. The transition has been successful, and the newly elected board and committee chairs are positively engaged.

Project Management for New Collaboration

Twenty-one government and non-profit organizations were organized by the Lake County Community Foundation to plan an approach to sustainable collaboration in the face of increasing needs and limited resources. The Lake County Leadership Task Force hired LHF to manage five simultaneous projects during a 12-month period, including coordination of other consulting teams dedicated to sub-projects. LHF defined a comprehensive project plan that considered interdependencies, and worked collaboratively with project leaders and the Task Force’s executive committee to achieve outcomes on time and within budget.

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Other Services

Advising to Executive Leadership

The newly hired Executive Director for a comprehensive ambulatory and family residency community health center requested coaching to rapidly master the scope of her new position while advancing the strategic plan of the organization. LHF provided weekly coaching support on topics including organizational restructuring, changes to physician staffing plans, data driven performance assessment, and operations improvement initiatives, resulting in a successful 90-day transition to ongoing leadership.

Interim Executive Leadership

A state association of free clinics received funding to launch the association and hired LHF for a one-year engagement of interim executive leadership. Outcomes included organizational infrastructure, securing funding to hire a permanent executive director, developing association membership, establishing relationships with external stakeholders, recruiting an ongoing executive director, convening an annual membership meeting, developing an advocacy platform, and establishing a three-year operating and financial plan. All goals and more were achieved.

Operations Improvement

Patients at a large community-based primary care practice regularly experienced extreme wait times at multiple points during the visit. It was routine for a visit to take up to two hours, with most time spent waiting at reception, in patient exam room, or in lines to check in and check out. LHF gathered information from the managers, providers, clinical and non-clinical support staff, and observed patient flow. Multiple no-cost recommendations were presented to department managers and line staff to implement elements of the Patient Centered Medical Home: patient care teams were redefined to include front desk and discharge staff, as well as medical assistants and nurses. Call center operators and medical records staff were aligned with each patient care team, and check-in procedures were streamlined. Careful attention was given to the initial days of implementation, and from Day One, the patient lines disappeared. Subsequent improvements in patient flow were achieved through creative problem solving and cycles of plan-do-study-act within each patient care team. Patient satisfaction, productivity and point-of-service collections all improved.

Performance Dashboards

A primary care practice needed rapid improvement in visits, provider productivity and revenue cycle. Executive leaders, department managers, providers and line staff were utilizing different reports to monitor performance. This resulted in conflicting perspectives regarding actual performance and interventions that would lead to improvement. LHF developed a unified monthly dashboard that reflected visits, productivity, and revenue, with actual performance compared to benchmarks and budget. Through this uniform set of information, easily interpreted by all internal stakeholders, shared perspectives emerged regarding successes and opportunities for further improvement. As a result, internal conflicts decreased, and decision-making, operations improvement and improved practice outcomes accelerated.

Designing Sustainable Project Management Approach

When a youth drinking prevention program lost its program manager, LHF was retained to design a project management plan for the organization that would manage multiple project interdependencies. LHF developed simple, effective project management tools that captured details and interdependencies, ensuring improved project outcomes, on time and on budget, and oversaw implementation with the organization’s leadership and staff. The program sustained ongoing management without replacing the program manager, due to LHF’s coaching of the program staff and CEO, and provision of a simple approach to project management.

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