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"At Northwell Health, we recognize a profound sense of responsibility to contribute in every way possible to the health and well-being of the communities we serve, not only through providing the best quality healthcare but also by employing sound environmental business practices and programs.”

-Michael J. Dowling, President and CEO

These comments are at the heart of Northwell Health’s sustainability and social responsibility mission. In November 2010, our CEO, Michael J. Dowling, shared these ideas in an article he wrote for employees shortly after Northwell publicly partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish far-reaching, environmentally responsible programs and business practices at its facilities. We did not stop there, however. In the two years since we signed the EPA agreement, Northwell has embarked on a journey to weave sustainability and social responsibility further into the fabric of the health network. For us, the essence of community health is underpinned by a commitment to a strong environmental stewardship and social agenda, because it is the right thing to do and better for people’s health and well-being.

We must avoid contributing to the environmental hazards that are causing health problems in our communities and work to increase health, economic and social equality to help people live healthy lives. To steer this activity within the health system, a Sustainability and Social Responsibility Council was established in 2012. Made up of a cross-section of leaders, the Council has begun to create comprehensive, holistic goals and practices that reach across the health system and will help shape the way we do business.

Northwell Health’s sustainability and social responsibility (SSR) mission is focused on improving the health and well-being of our communities and society at large. Through responsible decision-making and support of our communities, we will protect and enhance the environment and improve quality of life.

Social vulnerability Index

Northwell Health's sustainability and social responsibility mission focuses on improving the health of our communities and society at large. In an effort to better serve our communities, Northwell Health is developing a social vulnerability index (SVI) in collaboration with a data science firm. The SVI will be a valuable tool that measures the social vulnerability of individuals and communities by identifying social determinants of health (SDH). It will be comprised of a score that allows providers and community benefit personnel to identify the most impactful social determinants of health and facilitate actionable interventions in collaboration with key community members and community-based organizations.

The SVI will also help Northwell to empower the members of the communities we serve and create sustainable change via strategic investment. The SVI will be a valuable tool for identifying social determinants of health that predict 80% of clinical outcomes, and will also be a helpful tool to drive policy change and reimbursement modeling for value-based care.

Social determinants of health screener

At Northwell Health, we recognize that the most effective strategy in addressing total health is by engaging patients as partners. Our standardized self-reported SDH screening questionnaire allows patients to self-identify sensitive social issues that impact their lives at the time of their visit to our facilities. Our self-reported SDH screening tool incorporates a social model of health and removes the sole focus of body function, structure and disease alone, creating the ability to assess and identify patients’ needs in real time and allowing our providers to be engaged in the overall plan of care and to connect patients to needed social services.

Early identification of SDH barriers can help patients and their families achieve optimal health. Our strategic approach incorporates digital technology with a clinical system integration model of collaboration and engagement with providers. The model aligns delivery of patient needs via digital network referral and on-site staffing to tackle social vulnerabilities and improve health outcomes.

Community referral platform

Once the social determinants of health in a community are identified, providers are often not equipped to address them. Lack of information and resources can create a roadblock in helping patients and communities reach total health.

The solution? We leverage technology to allow providers and patients to connect to community-based organizations that can provide these needs, create highly matched referrals, facilitate closed-loop referrals, support bi-directional patient engagement, and document referral outcomes in an integrated approach. (suggested replacement paragraph below)

Through the use of a bi-directional referral platform providers and patients are able to connect to community-based organizations identified to meet a patient’s specific support needs. Need-based referrals with bi-directional communication allow the provider and community based organization to collaborate on behalf of the patient and document referral outcomes creating an integrated