Pursuing the Triple Aim in a Higher Education Setting: A Learning and Action Collaborative


There is an urgent need to develop new paradigms and approaches for how institutions of higher education address the increasingly complex and costly health issues on our campuses that are impacting students’ wellbeing, learning, degree attainment, and overall success.

Colleges and universities are invited to apply to be part of a groundbreaking, two-year intensive learning and action collaborative focused on the simultaneous pursuit of three critical objectives, the Triple Aim of:

  • Best possible health and wellbeing of all students on partnering campuses
  • Best experience of care and services (including satisfaction, quality, and access) for every student, every time
  • Lowest costs of care

Its audacious goal is to simultaneously pursue all three objectives of the Triple Aim, while recognizing that success with one dimension will not be at the expense of the other dimensions.  In fact, this collaborative is about learning and innovating together to drive measurable change using methods that spur rapid identification, testing, and spread of new approaches.

About the Triple Aim

Pioneered by the not-for-profit organization, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a leading innovator, convener, partner, and driver of results in health and health care improvement worldwide, the concept of simultaneously achieving better health, better health care, and lower per capita cost, referred to as the Triple Aim, has become an emboldening principle for health system transformation and improvement around the world.  The Triple Aim has increasingly been adopted and applied in diverse organizations and settings such as leading health systems, health plans, public and private employers, grassroots coalitions, social services agencies, and geographic regions such as communities or even entire countries.  Finding creative strategies to advancing the Triple Aim from concept to reality for colleges and universities is an essential pathway to achieving the institutional mission of teaching and learning.

Articles about the Triple Aim

  • Berwick DM , Nolan TW , Whittington J . The Triple Aim: care, health, and cost . Health Aff (Millwood) . 2008 ; 27 (3): 759 – 69.
  • Whittington JW, Nolan K, Lewis N, Torres T. Pursuing the Triple Aim: The first seven years. Milbank Quarterly. 2015;93(2):263-300.
  • Galvin G. Population Health: The ‘North Star’ of the Triple Aim.  US News and World Report.  2018.  Available at: usnews.com

The Collaborative

Convened by the Network for Improvement and Innovation in College Health, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and NASPA | Student Affairs in Higher Education, partnering colleges and universities will be pioneers in prototyping new systems and approaches for achieving the Triple Aim in a higher education setting.

At a high level, participating colleges and universities will benefit from the following support to guide their Triple Aim improvement work:

  • Guidance from expert faculty on setting up a robust Triple Aim strategy and portfolio of projects that together can achieve improved outcomes for the students you serve.
  • Key content such as change ideas; measurement strategies; testing, implementation and scale-up of innovations; and asset-based strategies for engagement and activation of students and the broader campus community.
  • A network for senior leaders to build strategic momentum and to ensure effective execution.
  • Individualized coaching to support simultaneous execution of multiple Triple Aim projects.
  • Face-to-face learning sessions, WebEx calls, and a password-protected online portal.