SOCI National Social Determinants Action Agenda


About the Action Agenda 

Stewards of Change Institute, its National Interoperability Collaborative, the Stanford University Center for Population Health Sciences and additional organizational collaborators across the country are creating a National Action Agenda to Advance Upstream Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being. Its intent is to instigate and implement realistic, systems-level change across health, human services, public health and other domains – the need for which is vividly illustrated by the coronavirus pandemic. This ambitious initiative encompasses a coordinated set of activities throughout this year and beyond.

Why NOW?

We have initiated these action steps because:

  1. 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;
  2. the agenda should be shaped and launched before, not after, we get to the other side of the worst public health and economic crises in U.S. history; and
  3. this is a potentially singular opportunity to meaningfully advance racial equity and socioeconomic mobility, while also better-controlling costs. 

Action Agenda Activities

  • A webinar series, which has already begun, focused on developing the action agenda and integrating it into the symposium; a critical part of this work is identifying which elements of SDOH are of highest-value and most-achievable, as well as how best to advance them into policy and practice. These interactive presentations/discussions are led by Dr. Karen Smith, former Director of the California 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 January 2021 in collaboration 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 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 information can be shared reliably and securely with Human Services and other domains that are critical to SDOH. The eventual goal is to enable cross-domain interoperability of a kind and to an extent that hasn’t been done before. We have already begun work on Project Unify, because this type of interoperability and 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 our 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 publication, “The Social Determinants: A Guide to Taking Action for Tangible Progress,” and we plan to further extend all this knowledge in a national training course. 

Action Agenda Goal and Objectives

Our goal in undertaking this highly collaborative effort is to guide pragmatic, systems-level change across community healthcare, human services and public health systems. The urgency to do this work now is glaringly evident as we see the structural problems – in terms of information-sharing and racial disparities – that the coronavirus pandemic is laying bare every day. 

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. 

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 100 event attendees representing academia, industry, courts, the nonprofit sector and government at all levels. While the in-person attendance will be relatively small to encourage interaction and learning, the event will also have an online component to maximize engagement and enhance the impact of subsequent work to implement the Action Agenda.



  • Action Agenda Development and Refinement, Monthly Webinars (May – September, 2020)
  • Bi-weekly Ongoing Workgroup Planning Calls (Publishing notes, draft and updates) (May – December 2020)
  • Produce drafts of the “The Social Determinants: A Call to Action for Making Tangible Progress” for ongoing comment and refinement; to be used as agenda for the national symposium (Q2, Q3, Q4 2020)
  • Host Stewards of Change Institute’s 14th National Symposium (January 2021)
  • Finalize “The Social Determinants: A Call to Action for Making Tangible Progress” as a product of the Symposium and work teams (February 2021)

Core AA members

  • Karen Smith, M.D., M.P.H., (former) Director of California Department of Public Health
  • Pierre-Gerlier Forest, PhD, Professor and Director, James S. and Barbara A. Palmer Chair in Public Policy, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary
  • David H. Rehkopf, ScD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine (Primary Care and Population Health) and, by courtesy, of Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology); Co-director of the Stanford University Center for Population Health Sciences
  • Lesley Sept, Executive Director of Population Health Sciences, VPHS-Population Health Sciences
  • Daniel Stein, MBA, President, Stewards of Change Institute

Join the AA Team!


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