By Daniel Stein
“Is there a way to begin to think about people, places, and the systems of society that drive health, well-being and equity outcomes?” That was the first question asked by Samova Saha (MD, MS) as she began her NIC webinar presentation last Friday, titled “It’s a WIN: A New, Data-Driven Approach for Measuring Well-Being.” Soma is Executive Lead of the Well Being In the Nation (WIN) Network, as well as Founder and Executive Lead of Well-being and Equity in the World (WE in the World).
That initial question set the tone for a highly engaging 90 minutes of learning that brought in 250-plus participants (a record for our weekly Friday webinar/calls!) and covered topics including WIN measures, what WIN is currently working on, and how WIN is assisting in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a nutshell, WIN offers a set of common measures that were co-developed with over 100 organizations, federal agencies, and local communities. The measures cover domains and sub-domains related to the social determinants of health as they impact well-being and equity.
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.
Soma’s presentation really hit home for participants, who responded with a broad range of questions that showed they were thinking concretely about how WIN’s work applies to their own. A few examples:
- How granular are these measures? Are they more granular than others that are widely used (e.g., zip codes and census)?
- Can these be used to understand child well-being? Or is there another measure for children?
- Was there any cross-check with Electronic Health Records and/or other clinical measures?
Soma’s replies not only provided guidance for participants’ use of the WIN measures, but also helped steer the conversation to the urgent topic of COVID-19; specifically, she discussed how Delaware is utilizing WIN measures to help the state deal better with the mental health and addiction issues of its residents. That conversation also generated numerous comments and questions, including:
- Can the WIN metrics be used to improve the process of triaging resources, testing, and care-giving during the pandemic, for instance for jurisdictions wrestling with the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment?
- What might the uses be for other stakeholders, such as law enforcement personnel and policy-makers, many of whom may have “compassion fatigue?”
- Are there ways to better-determine the contributions specific programs and interventions can make to improve well-being? And can we come to a “common” understand of “well-being?”
- Is there a need for a nationally sanctioned, locally instituted strategy to prevent, mitigate, and ameliorate the social mobility and isolation challenges of families in every community?
The engagement spurred by all these questions made for a rich conversation and underscored that now, more than ever, there’s a real need to instigate and implement realistic, systems-level change in public health. It’s because of this need that NIC is creating a National Social Determinants Policy Action Agenda, which we believe is long overdue. As befits NIC’s name and mission, this ambitious initiative is designed to be highly collaborative, including by working with organizations such as the WIN Network, All-In, and many others across the country. We invite you to join us for this exciting, multi-domain, multi-discipline, coordinated effort that will roll out throughout this year and beyond.
Soma referenced Well-being In the Nation (WIN) Measurement Framework, during her presentation. She also shared two articles, “Will the Federal Data Strategy Help Communities Win” and “Moving to a Learning Management System.”
Please share your comments/questions in the comments section below, and/or by joining in our upcoming webinars.