Value Added: Adopting a ‘Social Determinants of Health’ Lens

Posted by Anchor Institutions Task Force on May 7, 2019

March 2019

By: Anchor Institutions Task Force Health Professionals’ Subgroup

Executive Summary
The Anchor Institutions Task Force (AITF)1 defines anchor institutions as enduring organizations that remain in their geographic places, and play an integral role in their local communities and economies. They are often significant local employers, purchasers, and real estate developers with various investments in their neighborhoods and regions. Universities and healthcare institutions are examples of anchor institutions and can also play a role in ensuring the health, well-being and care of individuals in the community.

In 2016 a group of representatives of healthcare institutions and universities coalesced to learn from and support each other in AITF’s Health Professionals’ Subgroup. The purpose of the Subgroup is to provide a forum for professionals in various health fields to share ideas, best practices, and challenges about how anchors can effectively address health disparities in their communities, as well as discuss other contributions that anchors can make to improve the overall well-being of communities.

Subgroup members are committed to adopting a health equity lens and emphasizing the importance of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) for understanding health outcomes. As a result of this commitment, these institutions have cultivated a robust framework to guide their involvement and investments within their communities. They find that identifying as an anchor institution and focusing on SDOH makes them more fiscally nimble and effective in addressing long-standing negative health indicators.

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