Embracing the Social Needs Roadmap

By: Scott Orsey

Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health (the Office) is excited to be an early adopter of the Social Needs Roadmap, which is a health sector driven campaign to address the non-medical essential needs of patients, including children and families.

The roadmap joins healthcare organizations and community groups around the country to build a healthcare sector that connects people to essential resources they need to thrive, such as food, housing, electricity, transportation, and all of the other sectors represented in our “Flower Diagram” for system building. Healthcare sector leaders have convened for the past two and a half years to build the framework for this roadmap which is now circulating amongst industry participants for ratification.

Since we know that non-healthcare factors, including social needs, comprise 90 percent of a child’s healthy development, the campaign is a natural fit for us to endorse and embrace.

I participated in the campaign launch event in Boston, where I was able to share our work with participants as part of a panel discussion. The Roadmap facilitator also sponsored additional launch events in Chicago and Oakland.

My presentation focused on our work positioning Connecticut Children’s Medical Center as a critical community resource in addressing all issues impacting child health outcomes. We believe our efforts will make us an attractive partner to payers (both public and private), larger health systems, community-based organizations, communities, and a whole host of other collaborators as they work to improve the health and wellbeing of populations they serve.

Specifically, I detailed our work in strengthening our own community-oriented programs, strengthening our community-based partners, and encouraging greater collaboration among those internal and external organizations. I also highlighted our efforts to engage programs from all sectors impacting child outcomes, rather than simply focusing on strengthening child health services.

This is not easy work. I shared the results of a social-network analysis that we performed with our existing partnerships.  The following diagram shows the complexity of the relationships that exist across the more-than-150 partners we identified in our network.

Partner Reach of Connecticut Children's Office for Community Child Health

The programs of the Office are represented by the green dot. The lines connect our Office programs to our external partners, which are grouped in the sectors they are part of. We recognize the tremendous task of coordinating these programs and services to make them as accessible as possible for children and families as we strive to address critical community health issues efficiently and effectively.

We understand the crucial need for the community-oriented programs we work with, both internally and externally, to know the value of their work and recognize the interconnectedness of their efforts. Simply being available to receive referrals is not enough, as such referrals would end up as dead ends for children and families if they don’t ultimately resolve the initial need or concern.

While we feel our work at the Office often centers on linking children and families to available programs and services, it’s more about encouraging collective impact towards enhancing outcomes. We strive to bring community oriented programs together, frame a common vision, and ensure our activities are mutually reinforcing through an “all sectors in” approach.

We are excited about the Social Needs Roadmap and how it strives to bring additional hospitals and health networks into the conversation of how we can collectively promote children’s optimal healthy development.

We embrace those values in our daily work and encourage other hospitals and healthcare organizations to do the same.

Scott Orsey, is the senior director of operations and strategy for Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.

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