How Philanthropy Can Have Meaningful Impact on Social Determinants of Health
Philanthropy Southwest convened a panel of six leading experts on a May 13 Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) webinar. With the current backdrop of a public health crisis and global pandemic, this webinar provided a deeper understanding of SDOH pre-COVID-19 and a heightened importance of funding SDOH initiatives. Amanda Arizola, with Philanthropy Southwest and who sits on the Tarrant County Hospital District Board, moderated the panel discussion and provided some context around population health in removing SDOH barriers to improve health outcomes for all.
Dr. Anthony Slonim, President and CEO of Renown Health, began the conversation by defining SDOH as a very complex array of intersections surrounding: clinical care at the health systems level, economic stability, neighborhood/zip code, community and social context, safe and affordable housing, food supplies and education. Dr. Slonim shared Renown Health’s groundbreaking community initiative the Healthy Nevada Project. From analyzing the socioeconomic, behavioral science, healthcare access/quality and environment factors, data scientists can make correlations of health issues in communities and create solutions to these factors specific to the community. Considering COVID-19 exacerbates these factors, SDOH become even more important to assess in responding to community health needs.
PSW member Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) in Houston, Texas focuses on changing health systems to address SDOH, engaging communities and building capacity around childhood brain development. Dr. Shao-Chee Sim, Vice President for Applied Research, and Eusebio Diaz, Chief of Staff, shared insights from EHF’s recently released public opinion survey on Texans’ Views of Social Determinants of Health. A key finding was that 6 in 10 Texans think that having good medical care is not enough for an individual to live a healthy life. EHF shared their work with SDOH learning collaboratives, health resource centers, screening tools and research platforms to better understand health needs and create interventions for healthier communities.
Wrapping up the conversation, Dr. Lauren Smith, Co-CEO of FSG, discussed recovery efforts of COVID-19 and explained the disproportionate impact on historically marginalized communities. Dr. Smith asserted how structural flaws in the healthcare system have been exposed in the response to COVID-19 and provide an opportunity to redesign the public health infrastructure. Of the webinar participants polled, funders shared that they are currently focusing on immediate response needs, but they are now looking to increase funding for long-term reconstruction efforts. Just around 80% of funders polled stated they are interested in focusing on a reset rather than recovery. Abigail Ridgway, Director at FSG, offered an array of tools and approaches that funders can use in responding to changing community needs, using lessons learned from past community disasters, and working towards longer term recovery and building resilient communities.