Why NOW?

We have initiated the action steps in this unique effort because:

  • A national agenda focused on the Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being (and particularly on “upstream” activities in communities nationwide) is long overdue – and should be a critical component of our country’s post-coronavirus rebuilding activities;
  • The agenda should be shaped and launched before, not after, we get to the other side of the nation’s simultaneous public health, economic and social upheavals;
  • The need to work more explicitly for equity – in health and more broadly – is stark and clear. Interoperability is a critical way to pursue that goal by routinely providing the information needed both to clearly see the impact of racial/socioeconomic disparities and to address them.
  • This is potentially a historic opportunity to make fundamental, generational changes that will help to drive progress in many concrete ways.

Action Agenda Activities

  • A webinar series, which has already begun, focused on developing the Action Agenda and integrating it into a national symposium (see next bullet); a critical part of this work is identifying which SDOH elements are of highest-value and most-achievable, as well as how best to advance them into policy and practice. These interactive discussions are led by Dr. Karen Smith, former Director of California’s Department of Public Health, joined by our Stanford colleagues and other prominent thought leaders, innovators, subject-matter experts and change agents nationwide.
  • Stewards of Change’s 14th National Symposium, which we’re planning for early 2021 with Stanford University’s Center for Population Health Sciences. This event will be the culmination of all the integrated, strategic, step-by-step activities discussed in this document leading up to the event; then the symposium itself will focus on crystalizing, launching and implementing specific, actionable policies and practices at all levels.
  • A Proof of Concept implementation, called Project Unify, designed to demonstrate that health-related data can be shared reliably and securely across Human Services and other domains critical to SDOH. The goal is to enable cross-domain interoperability of a kind and to an extent that hasn’t been done before. We have begun work on Project Unify, because this type of data exchange is vital to accelerating progress on SDOH.
  • Collaboration with the Stanford faculty (and many others) to ensure that this work is informed by research as well as experience. Broad collaboration is also a fundamental component of our initiative because we believe shaping additional research and activities is critical to ensuring that this initiative continues and grows into the future.
  • Toward that same end, this effort also includes outreach, advocacy and an ongoing workgroup on the Collaboration Hub of SOCI’s National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC). The members of this multi-sector, multi-discipline group already are helping develop our webinar series and symposium. We will also provide key learning/recommendations from the symposium, webinars and workgroup in a white paper, and we plan to further extend all this knowledge as a course in our InterOptimability Training and Certification Curriculum (ITCC).

Action Agenda Goal and Objectives

Our goal in undertaking this highly collaborative effort is to guide pragmatic, systems-level change across Healthcare, Human Services, Public Health and other relevant programs, systems and domains. The urgency to do this work now is glaringly evident as we all see – every day – the structural problems we vitally need to address, from health disparities, to racial injustice, to better prevention, early detection and other upstream activities. 

Our Action Agenda’s specific, bottom-line objectives include:

  • accelerating the integration of SDOH as an indispensable element of every domain’s work;
  • focusing greater attention and resources on prevention, early intervention and other upstream activities;
  • enhancing efficiency and reducing costs;
  • furthering health equity; and
  • improving outcomes for the populations being disproportionately hurt by both the pandemic and, even more deeply, by racial and socioeconomic inequities.

Catalyzing and enabling demonstrable progress toward those objectives will be our explicit aim in selecting symposium presenters; in designing its highly interactive sessions; and, since participation will be by invitation only, in choosing the mix of about 125 event attendees representing academia, industry, courts, the nonprofit sector and government at all levels. While in-person attendance will be relatively small to encourage interaction and learning, it is important to say that the symposium will also have an online component to maximize engagement nationwide, build support and momentum for change, and thereby foster collaboration and enhance the impact of subsequent work to implement the Action Agenda.

Support Our Work

The initial sponsors/contributors for the Equity Action Agenda include the Mitre Corporation, the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH), the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability CommissionBrightHive Data Trusts and FEI Systems. And there are a growing number of additional supporters such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, for which we’re conducting a court technology project that will further broaden the Equity Action Agenda. Become a sponsor >> 

2021 Symposium Lineup

A few speakers to date for our 2021 symposium – most of whom will also participate in the broader Action Agenda – include Dave Ross, CEO of the Taskforce for Global Health; Kshemendra Paul, Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Veterans Administration; Alfonso Lara Montero, Chief Executive of the European Social Network; Dr. Karen Smith, former Director of the CA Department of Public Health (who is co-leading the Action Agenda); David Rehkopf, Director of the Stanford Center for Population Health Studies; Pierre-Gerlier Forest, Director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary; and Michael Wilkening, Special Advisor on Innovation and Digital Services to the Governor of CA; among others.   

* Important note: We use "Social Determinants," as well as the acronym SDOH, because they are in common usage. Our belief, however, is that the factors they refer to are, in reality, highly influential but not necessarily determinative. So we are currently considering how to revise that description while retaining broad understanding of its intent.