SDOH Studies Eytan 7661,” Ted Eytan

November 5, 2019; Modern Healthcare

Yesterday, a coalition of 14 large hospital systems said they would collectively commit $700 million toward community-based initiatives aimed at addressing the social determinants of health. The money, which seems to us like a relatively modest investment, will be used to address, among other things, housing instability, food insecurity, and economic revitalization.

This effort flows from a two-year-old collaboration called the Healthcare Anchor Network, which includes 45 hospitals and health systems and is overseen by the Democracy Collaborative. David Zuckerman of the Democracy Collaborative says some of the investments have already been rolled out, including a $200 million commitment from Kaiser Permanente aimed at increasing access to affordable housing. This, of course, pales next to the recent spate of tech investments that hover in the low billions.

A more recent member is Advocate Aurora Health, which will invest $50 million in a renewable fund to provide capital for community-based economic development.

“It’s the first time that systems have acknowledged that this strategy of impact investment should be part of their overall strategy for improving health and well-being in their communities,” Zuckerman said.

Other efforts to be funded include the siting of a grocery store in a food desert, childcare centers, community health center sites, and new local minority- and women-owned businesses.

The Democracy Collaborative will help each participating system as it implements and measures the results of their commitments.

“This is a strategy I think every hospital can look at, but this strategy alone is one piece in the puzzle toward addressing community conditions,” Zuckerman says. “I think what we’re asking systems to do is to look at their practices and ask a different set of questions.”—Ruth McCambridge