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The coronavirus is shining a spotlight on public health issues to an extent that we have rarely seen before. It is bringing into sharp focus the reasons that cross-domain information-sharing, interoperability and collaboration are so vitally important. And it is – or should be – putting the social determinants of health and well-being (SDOH) at center stage. There has been a growing understanding for years among health-related professionals that SDOH belong there, however, especially for upstream/primary prevention efforts in the fields of public health, population health and related human services. Addressing SDOH is also a growing topic of conversation in the healthcare sector, largely from the perspective of how addressing non-medical/social factors may reduce reliance on the healthcare system, improve existing health conditions, and save money. 

The great promise of changing the paradigm for achieving better, broader health and well-being is that there will be a far bigger bang for the invested buck when more of that buck is devoted to improving SDOH upstream. That was true before the coronavirus hit, and it remains the case today. If anything, it’s even more important to keep this topic front-and-center now because so much political and professional attention will turn to treatment, as has been case with the opioid epidemic as well.     


Against this backdrop, this Friday (March 13) the National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC) will launch a series of interactive webinar conversations focused on creating a national, multi-sector agenda for taking concrete action on addressing SDOH to improve health and well-being. Through this series of presentations and discussions, we will create a roadmap for operationalizing the promise of integrating the social determinants to advance progress in the health, healthcare and social services sectors (among others) and, most importantly, to benefit the individuals and communities they serve.   

About the Presenters 

Karen SmithKaren Smith, MD, MPH | Director, California Department of Public Health

In 2015, former Gov. Brown appointed Dr. Smith as director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Prior to her appointment, Dr. Smith had been medical staff for infectious disease at Queen of the Valley Medical Center since 2012, served as public health officer and deputy director at the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency since 2004, and worked as a faculty consultant at the Francis J. Curry International Tuberculosis Center since 1997.  



DR. Pierre-Gerlier (PG) ForestDR. Pierre-Gerlier (PG) Forest | Director, the School of Public Policy 

Pierre-Gerlier (PG) Forest is the Director of the School of Public Policy and James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair in public policy at the University of Calgary. PG Forest also holds an appointment as Professor of Community Health Science in the Cumming School of Medicine.

Prior to joining the School of Public Policy in 2016, PG Forest was Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at Johns Hopkins University and a Professor with the Bloomberg School of Public Health. From 2006 to 2013, he was president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a Canadian granting institution that encourages innovation in policy. In 2003, PG Forest was appointed to the G.D.W. Cameron Visiting Chair before becoming Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Scientist (2004-2006) with Health Canada, the federal department of health. In 2001, he had joined the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada where as Director of Research, he was responsible for the evidence produced and used by the Commission and contributed directly to its publications.

Dr. Forest spent the first part of his academic career at Université Laval, in Quebec City, where he was Professor of policy analysis and public administration with the department of political science (1990-2007). He is the author of more than a hundred and fifty scientific papers and books; among others, notably: Changing Health Care in Canada (Toronto, 2004) and Paradigm Freeze (Toronto, 2013).

PG Forest obtained a Master’s degree in Political Science at Université Laval (1984) and a PhD. in History and Socio-Politics of Science at Université de Montréal (1989).

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We look forward to your continued engagement. Feel free to add comments/thoughts/questions. Post a discussion, write a blog, and/or contribute your ideas for future discussion topicsWe’ll take a few minutes during our next call to sort through these, prioritize them and identify who will lead each discussion. Invite your colleagues so they can join too. 

About previous calls

Please note that we have posted the recording of the past LGT group's discussions for those who were unable to attend. Check them out! 

We look forward to this working session and hope you'll participate to share your thoughts and insights. 

Invite your colleagues and friends.  

Daniel Stein

Join Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being Group


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