There is mounting recognition that to truly improve health in the U.S. there must be an interdisciplinary, coordinated, and cross-sector approach to address social determinants of health (SDOH) and advance health equity. This work is imperative; research shows that social determinants of health- the social and economic factors that impact health- account for up to 75% of health outcomes. Creating health equity requires a transformation of how traditionally siloed public health, health care, and social service systems engage with one another. This transformation is not without its challenges, but is attainable.
Recognizing the difficulties of establishing strong cross-sector partnerships, the Health Care Transformation Task Force, an industry consortium of payers, providers, purchasers, and patients committed to accelerating delivery system transformation, collaborated with the Public Health Leadership Forum, a diverse group of public health leaders, to develop a practical framework to advance effective collaborations. The framework and the case studies that validate it are discussed in greater detail in the accompanying white paper: Partnering to Catalyze Comprehensive Community Wellness: An Actionable Framework for Health Care and Public Health Collaboration. Task Force and Leadership Forum members met over the course of the year and utilized shared learnings to create the framework. To utilize the framework, organizations should begin by setting an aim to focus on something specific that will drive their community closer to community wellness. An aim can be an inclusive goal (e.g. becoming the healthiest community in America by 2025) or can address a specific single health outcome (e.g. reducing county smoking use by 10% by 2020). In either case, the aim should meet the SMART criteria and be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. With an established aim, organizations can utilize the framework for guidance on how to best ensure a viable and effective partnership.
The framework outlines the five essential elements of collaboration needed to advance the aim of comprehensive community wellness including: 1) Governance Structure, 2) Financing Plan, 3) Cross-Sector Prevention Model(s), 4) Data-Sharing Strategy, and 5) Performance Measurement and Evaluation. As organizations approach each essential element, it is crucial to address three overarching considerations: equity, person-centeredness, and sustainability. While each element of collaboration is essential, they do not have to be addressed chronologically and are not listed in order of importance. To that end, the framework should be utilized as a guide rather than a blueprint; tactics and actionable strategies provide guidance that should be adapted to fit the needs of individual communities.
As the health care industry continues to talk about the importance of SDOH, health care leaders should embrace public health as a full partner to actuate and drive better health outcomes and equity. While fully addressing SDOH and realizing true community wellness will necessitate action from a wide-array of stakeholders and sectors, public health and health care are well-positioned to jumpstart and lead this work, and this actionable framework provides the guidance needed to begin.
The Health Care Transformation Task Force will be hosting a webinar on the framework and white paper findings on Tuesday, July 31st, more information and registration can be found here.