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New ProMedica Exec: SDOH Strategies 'Critical' for Industry Success

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   April 01, 2021

Rachel Krausman shared how she will lead the National Social Determinants of Health Institute and the ProMedica Impact Fund, as well as how her past experiences in the nonprofit sector have prepared her for her new role.

ProMedica, a nonprofit integrated health system based in Toledo, announced in early March the creation of a new leadership role for their National Social Determinants of Health Institute (NSDOHI): the vice president of national strategy and partnerships.

Rachel Krausman joined NSDOHI to serve in this role, where she will lead ProMedica's social determinants of health (SDOH) national teams, strategy, and implementation. She will also lead the strategy for the ProMedica Impact Fund, a national philanthropic collaboration focused on reforming healthcare.

Krausman, who recently spoke with HealthLeaders, stated that research has found as little as 20% of a person's overall health and well-being is a result of clinical care. The other 80% is driven by SDOH: where a patient lives, their financial stability, and their access to healthy food.

"From a healthcare organization standpoint, especially as we move towards more of a value-based or outcomes-focused healthcare system that cares about whether the person is ultimately healthier … the structure needs to be investing in and focusing on that 80%," Krausman said. "The shift towards investing and implementing in these strategies is critical for the sector's success overall."

Krausman shared how she will lead NSDOHI and the Impact Fund, as well as how her past experiences in the nonprofit sector have prepared her for her new role.

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This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

HL: Why did ProMedica create the role of vice president of national strategy and partnerships to focus on SDOH initiatives?

Krausman: As a regional healthcare system, ProMedica has been investing in these types of interventions and services for a long time. But as it grew with the acquisition of HCR ManorCare, which is now ProMedica Senior Care, ProMedica became this national healthcare organization with a lot of different business lines, different types of beneficiaries, patients, and members. So, growing the focus on social determinants to meet that at a national scale is a natural progression.

[NSDOHI] is focused on being both local to the hospital system's footprint and having a national approach to investing in, and ultimately scaling, the social care interventions that we know work and help improve health.

Adding the vice president position is about ultimately growing that focus at a national level, ensuring that we are collaborative and focused on partnerships, while also looking at transforming healthcare through scaling those interventions that are already happening in different pockets across the country.

HL: How have your past roles prepared you for your current role?

Krausman: Until now, I have mostly been at national nonprofits. I was with the American Red Cross at their headquarters for a while, and then most recently at United Way, leading the 2-1-1 network. I have a lot of experience with building relationships and strong partnerships at a national level, and then supporting the folks who are on the ground doing the work deploying the strategy at a local level.

In each of those roles, [I had a focus] on working with those local teams and partners to develop programs that are then scalable from one or two chapters to an entire national footprint.

In thinking about the work of the NSDOHI and the Impact Fund, it's similar [to my previous work] in that we are seeking those strong partners at a national level, but ultimately the work of social care intervention is going to happen at the local level between a provider, a social services partner, and a payer that's investing in the work.

Being able to tie together the strategies, the partnerships at a big scale and the local deployment and implementation of day-to-day operations is where I've had a lot of experience and that's what I'll bring into moving this work forward.

Related: ProMedica, MetroHealth Partner on Innovative Senior Care Facility

HL: What are you most excited about in your new role and why did you choose to join ProMedica?

Krausman: My role encompasses, as the title suggests, national strategy and developing partnerships. A huge focus of the role is rolling out and growing the Impact Fund, which is this bold commitment ProMedica made last year to raise and deploy $1 billion to scale those social care interventions that have a quantifiable positive healthcare ROI. While my role isn't entirely and exclusively focused on the Impact Fund, that's one of the things I'm most excited about.

The reason that I decided to move from the national, nonprofit sector into an organization like ProMedica is that I'm impressed by how genuine and bold their commitment is to the social services sector. [The organization] has a real focus on unlocking sustainable funding based on the work that's done and adding to what has traditionally been a philanthropic 'doing good' payment structure.

HL: What short-term and long-term SDOH initiatives have you identified so far and what are your strategies behind these efforts?

Krausman: The initial short-term focus for me is in rolling out a couple of partnerships through the Impact Fund. The team has been doing a lot of work laying the groundwork for it, and now we'll be accelerating it by announcing some of our first national partnerships [and philanthropic gifts] and then implementing some of those interventions locally.

My big focus for the first month or two, at least, is going to be getting those things up and running so that we start to have work happening in our different priority markets with the Impact Fund.

In the mid-term realm, [my goal] is getting more up to speed with the other departments within the NSDOHI and figuring out how we align our national strategy, which kinds of national partners we need to identify and bring on board to help both with scaling and what's happening locally.

The long-term [goal] is achieving those goals of transforming the sector by proving that different social services have an ROI, writing the book on how that gets proven, what goes into those types of interventions and how they are scaled. Ultimately, we’re advocating for the payment or the reimbursement for [interventions] so that we start shifting those funding streams into social services that could be more preventive in nature longer-term.

Related: Crossing the Digital Divide for SDOH

“The shift towards investing and implementing [social determinants of health] strategies is critical for the sector's success overall.”

Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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