by Sehrish Rashid, MPH, MA

April 20, 2020

Earlier this month, I attended the 2023 RISE Summit on Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) held at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. The summit started with a series of workshops on April 2, followed by a two-day conference on April 3-4. The conference agenda had a balanced cross-sector representation from payers, health system partners, local/state governments, educational institutions, advocacy groups, non-profit, and community-based organizations (CBOs), which in itself is a good example of a collective approach towards health equity.

On Day 1, Seun Ross, DNP, MS, CRNP-F, NP-C, from Independence Blue Cross moderated a powerful opening panel “Addressing Systemic Racism as a Driver of Health Inequity” with Rachel J. Thornton, M.D., Ph.D., from Nemours Children’s Health and John Adams from Gray Matter Analytics as panelists. The discussion focused on the importance of better data collection as a means to addressing health equity. The panelists highlighted the need for a shared understanding of that data and emphasized the willingness to learn from mistakes. Using the example of Southeast Asian countries, Adams commented that the disaggregation of data as different communities poses different challenges, which could not be solved through a cookie-cutter approach. Dr. Thornton also suggested hiring community health workers as integral members of the care team. Geisinger’s Vice President of Health Innovations and HCIF Board member, Allison Hess, MBA, also contributed to a panel on Day 1 discussing Geisinger’s practices and lessons learned related to the collection and use of race and ethnicity data.

Day 2 was packed with empowering energy through two fireside chats by Chanda Hinton, Executive Director, Chanda Center for Health and the Chanda Plan Foundation, and Jasmine Zapata, M.D., MPH, award-winning author, community leader, youth empowerment specialist, and board-certified physician specializing in the fields of pediatrics and preventive medicine. Hinton shared her personal experience of becoming paralyzed below the chest at the age of nine due to an accidental shooting, and how she eventually became a patient advocate for people living with disabilities. Zapata shared her story about how she was personally impacted by racism and traumatic events, which eventually led her to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) both inside and outside her clinic walls. She established Beyond Beautiful Girls Empowerment Movement, which is an effort to empower girls through music, books, events, and youth development curricula.

Being surrounded by over 600 people who travelled across the country for this event was invigorating. I enjoyed learning from the speakers about how they have been working to achieve health equity and hearing personal impactful stories. I look forward to the opportunity to attend more professional development opportunities in the future!