By Daniel Stein
When planning started for our weekly Let’s Get Technical webinars about a year ago, we envisioned (and hoped for) at least a few dozen geekie professionals would participate each Friday. Today, with about 50 of these unique, discussion-focused events behind us, we’re delighted to report that as many as several hundred people have shown up for each of the 90-minute sessions, which we’re proud to say have contributed to the National Interoperability Collaborative’s mission by expanding learning and collaboration across a broad range of domains (Health, Human Services, Education, Public Safety, etc.). Check out slides, recordings, and more, from these 50 webinars >>
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.
About our 50th Webinar
Last Friday’s webinar, "The Sequoia Project: Convening the Nation to Solve Health IT Interoperability," was led by Sequoia CEO Mariann Yeager. Check out the webinar's slides and recording >>
As with other NIC webinars that focused on the ONC’s National Accelerator initiatives, Sequoia has a goal – as the Recognized Coordinating Entity – to coordinate solutions that advance interoperability and integration activities, with particular focus on the Trusted Exchange and Common Agreement (TEFCA). These Accelerator programs hold great promise for developing a national infrastructure to enable bidirectional information flows that will not only enhance healthcare, but will also promote the integration of social determinants into the fabric of the nation’s HHS infrastructure.
That being said, I believe more attention is needed to ensure that the unique requirements for addressing SDOH factors (housing, nutrition, transportation, work, safety, education, etc.) need to be incorporated into the accelerator programs, so we don’t miss this unique opportunity to create systems that truly enable whole-person care across the spectrum of services. We look forward to contributing to this work and helping to embed SDOH into those inspiring national initiatives.
A New Focus for NIC Webinars
Starting in a couple of weeks, we’re going to resume our regular Friday webinar and shift its focus. We’ll still offer discussions/insights on a wide variety of topics relating to cross-sector information-sharing, and we hope you’ll join us for as many as possible. But we’ll also be highlighting an important theme in most of them: SOCI’s new Action Agenda for Advancing Upstream Social Determinants and Health Equity.
We’re undertaking this ambitious initiative – along with scholars at Stanford University and other organizational collaborators nationwide – because the need to implement systemic change in the U.S. has seldom been more apparent – and the opportunity to make meaningful progress toward that goal has rarely been greater. The intent of the Equity Action Agenda is to instigate and implement tangible, systems-level change across Health, Human Services, Education, Public Health, Public Safety and other domains that encompass the Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being. The need for doing so is starkly underscored by the racial and socioeconomic disparities being laid bare in our country every day.
The Equity Action Agenda encompasses a series of integrated, strategically coordinated elements throughout 2020 and beyond. They include:
- Our webinars, which will now primarily focus on developing the agenda and integrating it into a national symposium;
- Our 14th National Symposium in early 2021, with our Stanford colleagues. This event will focus on crystalizing, launching and implementing specific policy and practice actions.
- Project Unify, which is designed to demonstrate that health-related data can be shared securely across domains critical to SDOH to an extent that hasn’t been done before.
- Collaboration with Stanford faculty (and others) to ensure this work is informed by research and so that this initiative continues and grows into the future.
- Outreach, advocacy and a NIC Hub workgroup; key learning/recommendations in a white paper; and a course in our new InterOptimability Training and Certification Curriculum.
Our Action Agenda’s specific, bottom-line objectives include: accelerating the integration of SDOH as an indispensable element of every domain’s efforts to streamline processes; focusing greater attention and resources on upstream activities; enhancing efficiency and reducing costs; and most vitally, improving outcomes, especially for the populations that are being disproportionately hurt by the pandemic.