It goes without saying that we are living through unprecedented times. The COVID-19 crisis has us focused - correctly - on the acute issues facing our healthcare system, from bed shortages to personal protective equipment to contact tracing.
What we all now recognize is that the effect of COVID-19 will extend far beyond the immediate crisis. Economic disruption and the social consequences that will result will be the true legacy of this pandemic: people getting evicted, people unable to access prescriptions, people losing their support systems or access to their doctors. There’s another wave coming: not of infections, but of unmet social needs.
The world has known for some time that social determinants have a huge impact on health outcomes. Some estimates suggest that 80% of the factors that determine health originate outside hospitals and providers. Some of those barriers - like racism and income inequality - are systemic and institutional, and very hard to change.
But others can be changed. The world has discovered in recent times that when healthcare and social service organizations team up, they can assess, understand, mitigate, and sometimes even eliminate the social factors that negatively impact health.
But how do you set something like that up? What does it look like. Well the good news is that some very smart innovators have been thinking and working on that problem for a while now. Sometimes they’re called referral networks or community information exchanges, but we like to think of them as community collaboration platforms. They could be a whole new way to work together in the service of our communities.
More good news? There’s a recipe for cooking one up ... one that involves community building, technology, leadership, and hard work. But the most important first step is having a clear vision and an achievable plan.
Advocate Advisors has been instrumental in setting up community collaborations around the country, learning what works and what doesn’t in the real world. We can help you get your community off the ground, with specific advice on best practices and the pitfalls that come with the territory.
The world needs this. The world needs you to do this. And all you need is an advocate.
Contact us to see how we can help.