Welcome to the New Year: An Event and a Vision for Progress in Changing Times

By Daniel Stein

First and foremost, I’d like to begin my first blog of the New Year by bidding good riddance to 2020, acknowledging the disconcerting start of 2021 and wishing everyone a far, far better year ahead. If ever there was a time for looking forward to better days – and for charting a path to get there – it is now.

So here’s a contribution from Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI) that we hope and believe will be valuable: On January 25 and 26, in partnership with the Stanford University Center for Population Health Sciences, we’ll hold an online symposium that lays out a strategic vision for improving health and well-being throughout our country. And we’ll provide specific, actionable steps that can be taken at the local, state and federal levels to help make that vision a reality.

The symposium is the culmination of six months of work by over 100 organizational leaders, subject matter experts, researchers, technologists, developers and other senior professionals from across sectors and across the country as part of our “National Agenda to Advance Upstream Social Determinants and Health Equity (NAA).” Follow this link to learn more and to register for the event, which we’re organizing under the umbrella of another major SOCI initiative, the National Interoperability Collaborative, or NIC.


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Our symposium is also the kickoff for the next phase of NAA’s work, which is to begin implementing a series of action recommendations that our experts helped to devise. These six recommendations are focused on applying and testing solutions, starting in just a few months, with the federally funded Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) project in New Jersey. The aim – at this InCK site and additional sites around the U.S. – is to improve cross-sector interoperability, information sharing, collaboration and prevention both within the clinical/practitioner environment and, with state and federal buy-in, at a systems level.

A highlight of this month’s event will be the public unveiling of NAA’s Project Unify, which is a Proof of Concept technical solution that our team has developed to enable and accelerate the sharing of information across health, human services and numerous other sectors (courts, schools, child welfare, etc.). Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the other sessions we’re planning, along with some of the esteemed presenters who will be participating in the event, which will run from 12-4 p.m. ET each day:

  • Driving Systems-Level Change: What Matters Most Now and into the Future. Stacey Chang, E.D., Design Institute for Health, Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin; Michael Wilkening, former Secretary, California Health and Human Services Agency; Alina Baciu, PhD, MPH, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Sciences; Christine Tappan, MSW, Principal Associate/Scientist, Abt Associates.
  • From Research to Reality: What We Know (and Don’t) about the Social Determinants. David Rehkopf, ScD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine; Karen Smith, MD, MPH, former Director, California Department of Public Health; PG Forest, PhD, Professor and Director, School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.
  • Change at Scale: Bringing Together Research, SDOH and Interoperability at the VA (Keynote). Kshemendra Paul, E.D., Data Governance and Analytics, and Chief Data Officer, Office of Enterprise Integration, US Department of Veterans Affairs; Dave Ross ScD, President and CEO, The Task Force for Global Health Inc.
  • A Key to Accelerating Change: Leveraging the Power of Collaboration. Somava Saha, MD, MS, Executive Director, Well-Being and Equity in the World and Well-Being in the Nation Network; Clare Tanner, Principal Investigator, Data Across Sectors for Health/All In; Charlie Bruner, PhD, Children’s Health Equity, and Resource Manager, Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) Marks Network.

For over 15 years, Stewards of Change has been at the forefront of progress on interoperability, information sharing, remediating racial and socioeconomic disparities, and advancing health equity by providing thought leadership, offering innovative tools and methodologies, and instigating substantive, systemic, on-the-ground improvements. We’ve held dozens of in-person regional and national symposia, as well as other events and initiatives, to further those goals.

Now, with our first national online convening, we’re moving into new territory (along with so many others). But our vision remains the same and the need for our work is greater than ever, so our passion for moving it forward has grown, too. Please sign up to join us on January 25-26 because, during turbulent times or calmer ones, we believe the path to success is paved most quickly and effectively when we work together.

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