Taking Action During Disruptive Times: Two Exciting New SOCI Projects

(With Thanks to Kresge Foundation and Health Information and Management Systems Society)

Wherever any of us may fall on the political spectrum, most professionals working to improve the health and well-being of people in our country can probably agree on this: It’s hard to predict how the disparate pieces of the healthcare puzzle will come together in the months and years to come.

For over a decade, the foundational philosophy of Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI) has been that the best way to predict the future is to help shape it. Like many other organizations working to better the lives of children, families and communities – especially those who have been disadvantaged – we believe that turning this principle into reality is potentially more important now than it has ever been.

So, today, I’m delighted to announce that SOCI is embarking on two significant new initiatives that we believe will contribute to substantial, sustained, positive change. I’ll briefly describe both in this blog, and they’ll also be the primary focus of our 12th Annual National Symposium, which will take place June 19-20 in partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. The event is titled: “Taking Action During Disruptive Times: Advancing Progress on Innovation, Interoperability and Technology in HHS.”

Our two new initiatives are:

  • Building a national governance and standards body, tentatively called the National Interoperability Collaborative, by forming a combined network of already-existing networks. Among the key functions of this public/private effort, NIC will collect, analyze and disseminate data relating to interoperability and information sharing in healthcare, human services, justice/public safety, child welfare and other relevant realms. This work is primarily being enabled by a significant grant from the Kresge Foundation. On behalf of SOCI and our partner on this project, AcademyHealth, we extend our deep thanks to the Foundation for its confidence and support.
  • Formulating a new, hybrid model that communities can utilize in preventing, surveilling and responding to public health emergencies, whether they are generated by people (such as the national opioid/heroin epidemic and the water crisis in Flint, MI) or created by nature (like the Zika virus and Hurricane Katrina). We are grateful to the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) for being our primary partner in building this Health Emergency Linkages and Preparedness (HELP) model.

We are also writing a Guidance Document and Action Plan, with HIMSS, that focuses on using interoperability and information sharing to better address health-related crises. It will be published in June and – along with building the NIC – will be a focal point of our symposium that month.

Other highlights on our agenda include a panel of experts from Europe and Canada, who will explore international best practices in healthcare and social services, and how they might apply to US states as they rethink their own systems today; and a roundtable discussion of current/emerging health and human services issues resulting from the new administration’s policies, including ways we can advance the Social Determinants of Health and Well-Being.

At the bottom line, our intent and our commitment is to add a major component to SOCI’s ongoing efforts to provide thought leadership and advocacy aimed at improving HHS-related policies and practices, and thereby people’s lives. That component is to instigate and take concrete, measurable actions to systemically achieve our goals. That’s what our symposium, as well as our work on the NIC and HELP, will be all about. We look forward to collaborating with many of you to do this important work – and, hopefully, to help shape our nation’s future.

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