This past year has brought a laser-like focus to longstanding issues of inequity and other community stressors. As we all begin the process of emerging on the other side of the pandemic, it is important to reflect on what we have learned and what needs to change.

Recently, I had the opportunity to address the subject of “Sustainable Health Equity Innovation” at the 2021 Virtual Lake Nona Impact Forum, an organization that "explores the intersections of health, wellness, medical and scientific innovation and strategies to optimize human performance." I was joined on the panel by Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, president and Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Constance Hunter, principal and chief economist, KPMG.

During that conversation, I was asked what effective and sustainable collaboration looks like at the community level if we are truly to begin moving the needle on the social determinants of health (SDOH) and health equity in this country. Collaborative efforts at the community level are nothing new, even in a post-Covid-19 world, but the question remains if these collaborations are truly effective in addressing the glaring inequities in health and well-being, especially for communities of color.

We need to define collaboration as more than just bringing various community-based organizations to the table to try and solve long-term problems from a short-term mindset. My organization recently partnered on a health equity data project with the Anthem Foundation in the state of Indiana. We worked closely with community-based organizations, led by the Indiana Public Health Association, and together discovered three key learnings that are applicable to any community collaboration:

  1. We need a change in how investments are being made by public and private funding institutions.
  2. Funders need to support enhancing the capacity of community-based organizations to track and report outputs and outcome measures.
  3. We need more systems-thinking approaches to collaboration and civic infrastructure.

Read the full article about community collaborations by Thomas Bognanno at Forbes.