How can we build strong and meaningful links between the clinical care system and the communities where people live? How can we transform the health care system in Connecticut to improve health outcomes for everyone?
These are the questions we explored at our event, “The Future of Health in Connecticut: Paths to Equity & Good Health for All.”
What we learned
We heard from Dr. David Williams, who described the grave disparities that exist in health care and the individual and institutional forces that perpetuate racism. He spoke of the need to address not just bias, but policies that perpetuate unequal outcomes.
He memorably described the health care system as a repair shop: it provides fixes but doesn’t address what determines who gets sick.
Among the solutions Dr. Williams cited: going beyond health care to address the other factors that affect whether people are healthy, such as housing.
Dr. Soma Stout offered a vision of transforming health care, with a focus on equity, communities, and the many factors that affect people’s health. She described broadening the concept of the health care team to include a far wider group and building systems around health care providers so if they identify a barrier to keeping a patient healthy, they have a way to get help.
A panel of Connecticut experts spoke of the promising work being done in the state now, and the importance of making changes so that the health care system can be reoriented to focus on keeping people healthy, not just treating them when they’re sick.
We closed the day with Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, who walked us through the many forces that have given us a health care system in which care is often unaffordable – and offered suggestions for what we can do, as patients and policy wonks, to try to make things better.
One of the foundation’s major focuses is on fostering better connections between the clinical care system and patients’ communities, so that health care better addresses the factors that influence people’s health.
We believe this is key to addressing the gaping racial and ethnic health disparities that cause people of color to die earlier than their white counterparts and face more chronic diseases in their lifetimes.
The feedback we’ve received since the event tells us that many people in Connecticut are also interested in making these connections – and that many have questions about the best way forward.
For us, that means working to identify and share best practices inside and outside Connecticut in clinical-community integration and roadmaps that can help organizations along these paths. We hope to bring together those contemplating or already doing this work to share ideas, encourage collaboration, and identify potential partners. We plan to support efforts to test new models and to identify ways to pay for these new services and systems.
If you’d like to see more about the event, including the slides our speakers used during their presentations, click here. If you have thoughts on clinical-community integration, please drop us a line. If you’d like to sign up to receive resources and publications related to this work, please subscribe here.