Why do we define the 5 Points of Health Care™?


Cambia Grove’s role as a catalyst for health care transformation takes on many different forms. We host events, deploy strategic initiatives and even have created a startup competition. Everything we do comes from feedback from the community that we serve including this blog series. 

The community has indicated that while our actions to catalyze health care transformation are well received, the “why” behind what we are doing is missing. It is my promise to you that I will do my best to answer the “why.” It is my ask of you to always ask “why.” We cannot transform the system without asking questions. If you have a question about the intentions of Cambia Grove, our programs or events, feel free to ask me directly in person at Cambia Grove, over email at maura@cambiagrove.com or via twitter @MauraLittle or @CambiaGrove.  

Origins of the 5 Points of Health Care framework

Like many great innovations, the 5 Points of Health Care™ framework was created out of frustration. I was frustrated that every time I spoke to a community member, read an article or listened to a speech about the health care system, the definition of the system seemed to change. Over the past 10 years working to transform the system, I continued to ask myself how are we, as a community, supposed to work together to transform the system if we can’t define the system? 

In October 2017, as I thought through my new role as the executive director of Cambia Grove, a health care innovation hub, the first two questions I sought to answer were:

1) what defines the health care system? and 2) what defines health care innovation?

While more questions have emerged over the past two years that my team and I are working to solve – we now use the below definitions to help solve them. 

 We invite you to use these definitions as you seek answers to your questions. We also encourage you to broaden your perspective in health care transformation at our upcoming 5 Points of Health Care™ Conference on February 6-7th.

5 Points of Health Care

I’m not a great runner…but I run. One Sunday afternoon in October 2017, I was on a run near my house when I started thinking about the health care system as a system. I started to name the players…Patients. Patients, consumers, people - the name we call ourselves depends on our interaction with the system - need to have a reliable system that revolves around our needs and best interests. Many patients interact with insurance companies to pay for their care (Payers). Patients also interact with doctors, nurses, caregivers, hospitals, clinics, etc. and others who provide care (Providers). There is a large role in our domestic health care system for organizations, generally employers or government entities, to purchase benefits for a group of people (Purchasers). Finally, we spend a lot of time talking about health care policy that is crafted by elected officials and implemented by departments within the local, state and federal governments (Policymakers). These five segments, or 5 Points of Health Care, work together to create the health care system we know today.

Next, as I was rounding the hill down towards the beach (this was a long run), I began to think about where health care innovation fits within the system. We know that innovators can come in all forms. They can work within the system, as part of community-based organizations or as entrepreneurs trying to build tools to help the system serve individuals, families and communities. Traditionally, the tools that have been created are described as life sciences. Today, there has been an abundance of new entrants that are developing solutions independent from the life science industry. Economic development experts measure the life science industry by companies working to develop drugs, medical devices or researching ways to enable the development of solutions. To measure industries and sectors, including life sciences, analysts rely on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS codes). There currently are no NAICS code categories that measure the influx of technology-based innovation in health care*. So, if we look at health care innovation, what categories of tools are there to help the system serve individuals, families, and communities. Fortunately, the categories were already defined from our predecessors at the Cambia Grove through our Startup Census and include life sciences, digital health, health IT and innovative services.

Finally, as I passed the beach and started running the up-hill portion of the last leg of my jog, I really started slowing down… 

But I also started thinking about how we can create a space for the 5 Points of Health Care to come together with the entrepreneurs who are creating the next generation of tools to be used.

The 5 Points of Health Care conference was designed by the team at Cambia Grove for us all to: 

  1. Better understand how the health care system was designed to work,
  2. Better understand how the health care system actually works , and
  3. Find ways to better work together to serve individuals, our families and our communities

The team at the Cambia Grove and the incredible lineup of speakers from here in Washington State and across the country hope that you will join us and your fellow collaborators at our upcoming 5 Points of Health Care conference to better understand the system and find partners to advance innovation. We know that the system has been created by people and therefore we have the power to all work together to transform the system. I hope that you will join us next month for this important conference.

Thank you for your work! 

P.S. I love questions. Please ask any questions you may have about the framework. To get the conversation started, the most frequent question I am asked after describing the 5 Points of Health Care is why isn’t Pharmacy a 6th Point? My answer is that pharmacists can be listed as providers and pharmaceuticals are tools that individuals use to better their health, therefore are classified under health innovation. Please make your case if you disagree! We want this framework to be useful and therefore, it needs your critical eye.


*As a side note, we are working towards this effort through our State Innovation Landscape Reports – a topic for a future “why” blog post.


About Maura Little

Maura joined the Cambia Grove team in April 2017. She brings with her a diverse set of allies looking to transform health care. Her previous government roles built her network to include a range of stakeholders from life sciences, global health, energy, ICT and natural resources.

Maura passionately believes our region can be a shining example of what is possible in health care through collaboration. Her current role as Executive Director builds on her previous leadership roles in advancing the conversation towards constructive change. 

As Governor Inslee’s Life Science and Global Health Sector Lead, Maura led strategic initiatives to put our region back on the map—from recruiting the 17th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference to Washington for the first time in conference history, to working with startups to connect them to vital resources that will help them grow and thrive in the Northwest. 

Maura began her journey in the health care sector in 2009 where she played a key role in communicating the federal Affordable Care Act to local stakeholders as a staff member for then Congressman Jay Inslee. As the Washington State Director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, her perspective was greatly influenced by her work in patient advocacy.

When Maura is not working toward health care transformation, you can usually find her working to transform her house. She spends most of her time at home boating or working in the yard and enjoying the island life with her husband and two young boys.