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 By Eric Jahn

Within many countries and across national borders, the internet is full of varying definitions or understandings for similar or even the same human services concepts. For example, the word "program" means different things in different circumstances and different sectors. The same is true for many common terms, even simple ones that we may intuitively believe have the same meaning to almost anyone. (Think "enrollments," "households," "exit," "homelessness" and many, many more.)

T

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By Daniel Stein, President, Stewards of Change Institute

COVID-19 is unleashing numerous, profound consequences that we hear about on the news and feel in our own lives every day. One effect of the crisis that has received little attention to date, however, is its impact on the civil courts, where critically important personal matters such as child custody and eviction (among many others) are still playing out during the pandemic and will continue to do so into the future.

The need for the court

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By Daniel Stein, President, Stewards of Change Institute

Like so many others in the nonprofit world, those of us at Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI) do our work every day primarily because we deeply believe in our mission and are committed to improving people’s lives by advancing systems-level change.

I have to admit, however, that it’s also nice when our efforts get a little outside attention now and then. So I’d like to extend a metaphorical tip of my hat (I don’t really wear one) to GovRep

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We invite you – individually or through your organization – to join us in pursuing this mission by personally participating in, contributing financially to, or in other ways supporting SOCI’s new National Action Agenda to Advance Upstream Social Determinants and Health Equity.
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It took Stewards of Change more than 15 years to accumulate the knowledge, resources, experience and connections that we’re now bringing together in both ITCC and the Action Agenda. It took just a few months of a global pandemic to underscore just how important this work truly is – and can be. We now have the opportunity to do much more than just wait and see what the “new normal” in our country is going to look like; we believe we’ve got the wherewithal to help shape it. Please join us for the
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On behalf of all of us at Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI), which is NIC’s nonprofit parent organization, I extend my deep thanks to all of my colleagues, old and new friends, and other supporters who have helped us organize these “deep dive” webinars. We’re particularly grateful to the scores of presenters who have made the time to lead conversations, answer questions, and stimulate activities during and after each one.
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Rita Torkzadeh and Pradeep S.B. Podila, provided an update on the work of Unify’s Person-Matching Workgroup; that includes identification of clients/patients who may be matches; improving statistical confidence in matches; identity data linkage of high-confidence matches; and resolution of matching identity data inconsistencies.
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I want to thank the 230-plus participants in the discussion, which was a  largely-technical update and brainstorming session titled “Project Unify (Part 1): Advancing Progress on Building Cross-Domain Interoperability across Health and Human Services.” Please join us for Part II, which will begin at noon Eastern this coming Friday, May 29. 
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“Privacy is a religion,” and the way many people think about it is tied to their core beliefs. So not everyone is going to be convinced that the data we’re asking them to share is going to actually remain private, but we can be governed by principles and policies that help people feel more comfortable about moving forward while addressing their very real concerns. And, necessarily, we should do so while continuing to be as transparent as possible.
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The intent of both SOCI’s new paper and of the InCK initiative’s intent is basically the same, and it’s an important one: to provide practical guidance, tools and models that can be leveraged, replicated and improved over time to address the enormous and growing need for coordinated care across our nation.
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The webinar was titled “Getting Evidence into Practice: Lessons from the Opioid Crisis,” and the three AHRQ presenters were Medical Officer Elisabeth Uphoff Kato, Staff Fellow Roland Gamache and Program Officer Suchitra Iyer. 400 attendees from health, healthcare, social services and other public and private sectors and systems attended – a record high for our weekly webinar series!
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Over time, the initiatives discussed during the webinar will strengthen the nation’s capacity to share information and use it for data-driven decision-making to improve health outcomes, equity and operational effectiveness. Indeed, once these efforts are operational, they should  help us to navigate many current challenges and to build technical resilience to address the effects of COVID-19 and other future emergencies. 
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One particularly important insight that Soma shared was this: “Out of the domains that relate to the well-being of people, places, and equity – it turned out that asking people how they felt about their own lives proved to be most important.” That’s an interesting point because it relates to the opportunities that individuals have in areas that significantly impact their lives, such as jobs, housing, and education.
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By Adam Pertman

Senior Consultant, Stewards of Change Institute

The coronavirus crisis has put children in foster care – and those who need to be there – at serious risk in numerous, unnerving ways. To date, however, they and their families have barely been mentioned as potential victims of the pandemic, and the federal government has done too little to help them. That has to change as quickly as possible, either with targeted resources in the next economic stimulus bill or in separate legislation

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What comes to mind when you think of public libraries? Do you perceive them as just a source of books or something more? Are they an important component of community life? Most pointedly, can they play a significant role in combatting a public health crisis?
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As daily life changes for everyone, we are all learning how to function in different, more-flexible ways. It is a learning exercise that feels – and often is – both individual and isolating. There’s an additional way to look at the lessons of the coronavirus crisis, however, and the title of last Friday’s (3/27/20) NIC webinar/discussion describes it: “Collaborating to Deal with Today – While Preparing for Tomorrow.”
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The situation in the United States is unique because of the wall that exists between health and social policy. The former is consuming close to 18 percent of U.S. GDP and, despite its terrible shortcomings, is a global symbol of medical prowess and innovation. Meanwhile, the latter is underfunded and underserviced as we can clearly see – unfortunately – during the current coronavirus crisis.
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While we have made progress through new technology and federal rules toward making a national health information exchange system a reality, just about everyone who works in this space knows we have “miles to go before we sleep”.   There are indeed local HIE’s that are quite successful, but few major operational state HIE’s and not a true national HIE system the likes of which we wished for when this work started.  Now Niam Yaraghi writes in an article published by the Brookings Institution that

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The coronavirus pandemic was front-and-center, of course, but the National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC) also had another broad, long-term objective in mind when it started planning this convening months ago, when the words “worst public health crisis in modern US history” referred to the opioid epidemic. Today, NIC’s objective remains the same; that is, to create a National Policy Action Agenda by year’s end designed to improve our nation’s too-siloed health-related systems by meaningful
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