In recent blog posts, I have discussed the work Swedish is undertaking to make sure we continue to meet the needs of our patients and our communities within a rapidly changing health care environment.
Our leadership team has been rolling out a new strategic plan that will guide Swedish into the next phase of health care, which we call “Health 2.0.” In a Health 2.0 model, care becomes more community-based, accessible and seamless. Patients rely on ambulatory care centers, virtual visits, and other methods of receiving care faster, and closer to home. The transition to Health 2.0 requires a strong infrastructure, a focus on the social determinants of health, a commitment to community partnerships and the integration of new technologies.
Our strategic plan addresses these priorities in three key areas. In a blog post last month, I focused on the first of these, Strengthening the Core, which includes optimizing the work experience of our caregivers, striving for excellence in clinical care, and maintaining a focus on improved operational and financial performance. In this blog post, I will focus on the second major area of our strategic plan: Being Our Communities’ Health Partner.
Being our communities’ health partner is about our commitment to collaborating with others to improve care and outcomes for people in our communities.
We conduct routine Community Health Needs Assessments for the various communities we serve in order to better understand the unique challenges facing our communities and determine how we can serve them better. Through this process, we have engaged with over 125 community partners that focus on social determinants of health, such as safe and affordable housing, as well as health equity and eliminating barriers to access health care.
In Issaquah, for example, we identified behavioral health services as a priority issue for the community, especially among children and teens. As a result, we developed a program in partnership with the Issaquah School District to offer services and counseling within the school system so that we could identify problems and intervene earlier to address issues such as depression that are increasingly affecting children in the community.
Swedish now screens all patients for signs of depression. That is one example of how the findings in our Community Health Needs Assessment can improve our clinical care practices and better connect us to the needs of our community. This is a start and we are committed to doing more.
At Swedish, we are proud of our history as a health partner in our communities. For more information on our recent activities, I hope you will check out our 2017 Community Benefit Report that details how we spent almost $200 million on community benefit programs last year.