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October 12, 2017

Our Vision, Mission, Core Values and Guiding Principles

Our Vision, Mission, Core Values and Guiding Principles

Over the past year, our Executive Team has put considerable time and thought into a set of incredibly important questions as we reflect on the ever-changing health care environment.

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • How do we measure and continue to improve what we do?

We want to share the answers we’ve come up with and how they impact our vision, mission, core values, and guiding principles.

The answers to these questions are strongly influenced by the larger environment in which we work. That environment is influenced by clients, families, clinicians, evidence, payers, regulators, and policymakers. We must regularly assess the environment and shift accordingly to ensure we continue to provide the best care we can – in a way that meets the demands of the environment. As health care reform conversations continue at the federal level and the health care environment continues to change, we know we must keep pace with the changes and remain flexible and adaptive.

In meeting the demands of the environment, we continue to embrace the three-legged stool model of delivering care described by Sackett et al. in 1996 in the British Medical Journal1 and described by Dr. Carol Peterson, Chief Training Officer for The Emily Program last year in BMC Medicine2. The three legs of the stool are data, clinical expertise, and patient/client preference. Each is critical and each evolves over time; we must ensure we evolve as well.

First, data: A big factor driving our decisions is the current insurance environment that demands evidence-based care, outcome data, and consideration of risk-sharing payment models. We must continually integrate the most impactful evidence-based treatment approaches in our model and be able to measure and report our impact. We have begun to have insurance companies require us to measure and report these metrics in order to get paid for the services we deliver. This “pay for performance” model is becoming the norm across health care. We accept the challenge to clearly demonstrate our value to consumers. We know that the eating disorder treatment provided at The Emily Program represents excellence in care and helps people get well. We are excited to increasingly measure and describe that excellence.

Second, clinical expertise: Our model incorporates provider expertise, solid training, and state-of-the-art clinical offerings. It does so in a scalable way that we can deliver consistently across all The Emily Program’s sites, so the clinical expertise you experience as a client isn’t dependent on idiosyncratic site or provider differences. We know we must be able to clearly articulate our clinical expertise and deliver on it consistently.

Third, patient/client preference: Our model must deliver services in a way that works for clients and families. We must structure our services in ways that meet the needs of clients first. From making sure we answer the phones 7 days a week, to provide immediate access to an intake appointment, to facilitating admission to our programs smoothly and quickly from next door or across the country, to providing an easy way to pay a bill online, we have the notion of serving the client foremost in our process design.

Who are we and what do we value?

About a dozen years ago, when The Emily Program was a group of about 30 staff with 3 sites in Minnesota, we crafted our Vision, Mission, and Core Values. Now a company of over 500 staff with 14 locations in 4 states, we have reviewed each to make sure they still represent what compels our work and guides our practice. We affirmed in this process that at the core, we are exactly now who we were then – people spurred by a passion to reduce suffering and save lives, by offering the best eating disorder treatment we could in a way that met the needs of those we served.

And so, our vision remains the same: The Emily Program imagines a world of peaceful relationships with food, weight, and body image, where everyone with an eating disorder can experience recovery.

Our Mission broadcasts who we are: The Emily Program exists to provide exceptional, individualized care leading to recovery from eating disorders, through evidence-based treatments and a multidisciplinary approach.

What do we value? We truly believe the success of The Emily Program is measured by the talent, commitment, and vision of our people, the quality and outcomes of our treatment services, and decision-making that is client-centered and sustainable.

We strive to demonstrate these core values:

Passion: We are passionate about what we do.

Respect: We treat clients with empathy and integrity.

Commitment: We are committed to facilitating recovery for the greatest number of clients.

Collaboration: We partner with each other, families, and our community to put clients first.

These are what we all commit to as part of The Emily Program team.

After we reviewed and affirmed those essential core elements, we set out to clearly define what it is we do. These are the six guiding principles we identified that shape what we do. They are not really new principles, but it is new that we have them down “on paper” and as such, we will hold ourselves accountable to them.

This set of guiding principles allows us to offer services to a significant portion of those who need care – leading us to have the potential for a significant impact on the lives of many, many people.

What did we come up with? Here’s a look at each of our six guiding principles.

1. We provide specialty eating disorder treatment for clients in the greatest clinical need.

  • We truly are a specialty service; we provide a relatively scarce treatment resource and must do all we can to ensure availability of the service for those who need and can access it.

2. We deliver a full spectrum of eating disorder treatment starting with the highest levels of care and stepping down to non-intensive outpatient.

  • We believe that eating disorders require intensive, early intervention to help mitigate the complications and consequences of these illnesses.

3. We deliver evidence-based care through a multidisciplinary team that integrates medical, therapeutic, psychiatric, and nutritional expertise.

  • It is essential that we be well-informed by the evolving research in eating disorders and use evidence to inform our multidisciplinary treatment approach.

4. We continually assess clinical data to guide the best possible treatment outcomes and clearly communicate expectations to clients and families.

  • We believe we must measure what we do and use that measurement as part of our decision-making process around the course of care. We have an obligation to measure and report outcomes so that clients and families have an idea of what to expect and our other stakeholders see the value in our services.

5. We embrace growth and change, which improves access and delivery of care and supports organizational sustainability.

  • Health care is an ever-evolving field and subject to incredible pressures from numerous audiences – policymakers, payers, consumers, and regulators. Flexibility and adaptability are the key to success and sustainability.

6. We advocate for improved access to eating disorder care for all individuals.

  • We acknowledge that not all people have access to eating disorder care. While we cannot remove every barrier to care and we cannot meet the needs of everyone, we will continue to passionately advocate for improved access to care as part of the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, and Action so that our vision of recovery for everyone can become reality someday.

We hope this gives you a greater sense of who The Emily Program is, what we believe in, and how we guide our staff, processes, and services. Working together, we know we can help reduce suffering and save lives. We can expand our horizons of hope and help people make peace with food, their bodies, and themselves. We envision a world where full eating disorder recovery is possible for all who struggle.


1. Sackett DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence-based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ. 1996; 312 (7023):71–2.

2. Peterson CB, Becker CB, Treasure J, Shafran R, Bryant-Waugh R. The three-legged stool of evidence-based practice in eating disorder treatment: research, clinical, and patient perspectives. BMC Medicine, 2016; 14:69.

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