The Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC) has developed wherehealthbegins.org, an online toolkit of best practices and resources for academic health centers and their community partners to use in addressing the broad range of non-medical issues that impact health and well-being. Known as the "social determinants of health," these include all the factors that impact health where one lives, learns, works, and plays. Through these efforts, AAHC plans to translate individual institutional successes and best practices into a nationwide effort.
"The full range of health determinants, which include genetics, social circumstances, environmental conditions, and behavior, have a major impact on health and well-being beyond what direct medical care offers," said AAHC President and CEO Steven Wartman. "The toolkit is designed to encourage academic health centers to take advantage of their unique position and broaden their traditional focus on medicine to address health where it begins: in people's homes, schools, and communities."
The online toolkit strengthens the abilities of academic health center leadership and representatives from multiple sectors—employers, nonprofit organizations, the federal government, the public health community, community organizations, and foundations—to communicate, collaborate, and play a leading role in addressing the determinants of health as a key way to prevent disease and improve health and well-being.
"The toolkit offers a space where different stakeholders can share best practices, and it also provides tools for individuals to advocate for their organizations to do more. I am very thankful to the team here who helped produce it," notes Dr. Ray Greenberg, president of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The website also features a scorecard for organizations to self-assess their efforts, a pledge for individuals and institutions to work to make a sustainable difference in addressing the social determinants of health, and Continuing Medical Education credit.
The online toolkit arose out of a series of meetings in 2011 and 2012 that brought together a variety of stakeholders to build a coordinated national movement to encourage academic health centers to broaden their programs to address the social determinants of health. The toolkit was developed in partnership with MUSC, the University of California, Davis, and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center with funding provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and MUSC. The AAHC Social Determinants Initiative was formally endorsed by its Board of Directors in 2012.
Association of Academic Health Centers