Today’s guest post comes from Nisha Pasupuleti, System Director of Transformative Strategy, Population Health at CommonSpirit Health. She would also like to thank Anuradhika Anuradhika, System VP of Innovation, and Brisa Hernandez, System Director of Operations at the Lloyd H. Dean Institute for Humankindness & Health Justice, for their support. Below, Nisha shares how CommonSpirit is addressing the drivers of health, and leveraging a key component of business model success outlined in You Are What You Treat: the partnership ecosystem. Read on to see how its focus on what people need and want, together with the organization’s vision for health justice, drives innovation and better health outcomes.

CommonSpirit Health is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health care systems with care delivery sites in 21 states. At CommonSpirit Health, we put our legacy and mission—serving the vulnerable while advancing social justice—into action by implementing innovative approaches to addressing health inequities, barriers to accessing care, and other social drivers.

Innovation is a team sport, and we’ve taken this to heart both within CommonSpirit, as well as in our partnerships with outside organizations. Together, we can innovate to provide better care, better health, and better lives for those we serve. Below are some examples of how we do that in practice.

With the belief that kindness is essential to basic human health for everyone, the future of health care must move beyond addressing systems and barriers that impact health and wellbeing and evolve towards health justice. To that end, CommonSpirit serves our patients and communities with the intention of a simple but powerful phrase, “Hello Humankindness.” “Humankindness” is an act of humanity plus an act of kindness, which results in a moment that feeds and heals the human spirit. The healing power of humankindness is rooted in scientific research and evidence-based medicine. It has been shown to result in more effective treatment planning and patient engagement, faster healing, and better survival rates in various clinical settings.

Humankindness as innovative strategy

The Strategic Innovation team at CommonSpirit approaches humankindness by augmenting our ability to better serve our patients. The team also innovates on how and where wellness and healing take place, as outlined in the examples below. Our work is rooted in the belief that equitable innovation does not leave anyone behind, and collaboration amplifies and accelerates our collective efforts. 

This is particularly true in how we seek and identify partnerships with companies or organizations developing new models of care that address the social drivers of health. With guidance from our Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging’s Health Equity Blueprint, we developed evaluation criteria to assess a partner’s commitment to equity. This tool helps us ensure equity is embedded in all aspects of the partner’s company. For example, patients should have access to new models of care irrespective of payer type, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Additionally, the partner must support inclusive and diverse representation in hiring practices and company culture.

It is these principles that have guided our partnership strategy and process with companies that are developing new care models to address social drivers of health. We are sensitive to the fact that some technological innovations may, in fact, perpetuate disparities in access. As an example, recognizing our patients’ need to access behavioral health support, we focused our innovation efforts to bring virtual care programs to our patients via phone or on video at hours that are convenient to them. An unexpected insight was that 70% of patients using the program had never seen a therapist before. Learning this made us more intentional about how we integrate practices of empathy and compassion into the design process. 

Similarly, there is a long-standing recognition that access to transportation to medical visits, as well as safety via transportation, are barriers for many of our patients. Since 2019, our transportation program, developed in collaboration with local care teams and prominent industry partners, has been offering free transportation to medical appointments for patients lacking transportation access. In several of our markets, this program offers transportation to some of our most vulnerable patients, including victims of human trafficking and mothers with addiction issues. By providing access to safe transportation through this partnership we continue to ensure consistent implementation of our humankindness approach.

From strategy to culture

Even with the advances made, we acknowledge that there continue to be care gaps that are widening for some populations. The time is now to approach our collective work differently and go back to the heart of our humanity. With the belief that kindness is essential to basic human health for everyone, the future of health care must evolve towards health justice. That means we must move beyond just addressing systems and barriers that impact health and wellbeing and create new models of care that prioritize health equity and social justice.  

To achieve this goal, CommonSpirit created the Lloyd H. Dean Institute for Humankindness & Health Justice, led by inaugural president Dr. Alisahah Jackson. The Institute will serve to amplify existing initiatives and create the new models of care mentioned above.  It will also create learning opportunities in the science of kindness, compassion, empathy, and trust. We see this innovative approach to fully integrate humankindness in our organizational culture as a way to impact longstanding inequities at a systematic and individual level, moving us towards health justice.

As health care continues to evolve to meet the needs of our society, let’s not forget that everyone wants to be seen and heard, everyone deserves grace, and ultimately, one of the most important things we can do to accelerate health and healing is to treat everyone with kindness and compassion.


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