Overview and History
In December 2016, leaders from 40 health systems across the U.S. gathered in Washington, DC to explore how their systems could more fully harness their economic power to inclusively and sustainably benefit the long-term health and well-being of the communities they serve. This convening led to the launch of the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) in May 2017, representing a critical milestone in mobilizing the healthcare sector towards action and collaboration.
The Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) catalyzes health systems to leverage their hiring, purchasing, investing, and other key assets to build inclusive local economies to address economic and racial inequities in community conditions that create poor health.
HAN supports health systems in implementing the anchor mission by raising the bar for best-in-class practices, accelerating adoption among individual organizations through an action-oriented framework, and fostering unique sector collaborations to scale social impact.
HAN members are leading a health systems movement to universally adopt the anchor mission framework and partner collaboratively and authentically with other anchor institutions and with their communities to create economically, socially, and racially equitable outcomes in place.
Founding members of the Healthcare Anchor Network include Advocate Aurora Health, CommonSpirit Health, Henry Ford Health, Kaiser Permanente, ProMedica, Providence, Rush University System for Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Trinity Health, and UMass Memorial Health. Today, over 70 hospitals and health systems are HAN members.
The Anchor Mission & Community Wealth Building
Health systems are anchor institutions because they are significant economic engines with an embedded social mission that are rooted in place and inextricably linked to the vitality of the communities they are situated in. The anchor mission is an intentional commitment to apply an anchor institution’s long-term, place-based economic power and human capital in partnership with community to mutually benefit the long-term well-being of both.
Through this anchor mission approach, HAN staff work to cultivate champions at our health system members to fully activate their organization’s unique platform as a leading community institution in partnership with others to meaningfully address economic and racial inequities in community conditions that create poor health.
This approach is grounded in community wealth building: a place-based approach to economic development that promotes the local, democratic, and shared ownership and control of community assets—and the recirculation of existing wealth back into the local economy—to produce broadly shared economic prosperity, racial equity, and ecological sustainability.
The anchor mission allows organizations to drive social impact by aligning their operations more powerfully and strategically to achieve healthcare’s expanding mission of improving community health and well-being and fully realizing their potential as a locally rooted community asset.
Activities of the Network
HAN supports health systems in implementing the anchor mission by:
- raising the bar for anchor mission strategies through defining best-in-class commitments and leveraging sector recognition
- accelerating the adoption of anchor strategies internally, in partnership with other anchors, and in authentic collaboration with community
- fostering high-impact industry collaboration to scale impact of anchor mission approach
HAN provides strategic support, curates deep dive peer conversations and facilitates initiative workgroups for members as they develop, launch, grow, and institutionalize anchor mission strategies at their institutions. These structured learning opportunities help members develop the necessary tools, frameworks, and relationships, and to address common challenges needed to accelerate anchor strategies. HAN convenes health systems twice annually. HAN also administers an annual data collection process around core anchor strategies and supports a member-only online community platform that provides tools and resources to help meet specific needs.
HAN members identified priority areas for the work they are advancing together, with initiative groups focused around:
- advancing the organizational imperative for adopting and implementing an anchor mission
- effective collaboration with community stakeholders in implementing anchor strategies
- building evidence of the impact of these strategies and assessing our member’s progress through a yearly data collection process
- developing a shared policy and advocacy agenda around addressing upstream determinants of health
- implementing anchor strategies around inclusive, local hiring and internal workforce development; place-based investing; and inclusive, local purchasing
- leveraging internal and external philanthropy to catalyze other anchor strategies.
Healthcare leaders are uniquely positioned and incentivized to play a more active role in supporting local economies. The time is now for an expansion and deepening of this work in our communities, and leaders in the field are rising to the occasion. Membership in the Healthcare Anchor Network is open to representatives of all health systems that can bring their energy, insight, and innovation to the collective work. Join us in advancing the anchor mission of healthcare.
For further information on joining the Healthcare Anchor Network, please let us know a little about you and your institution here or just reach out directly to Carol Gaudino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Members and Member Insights
“ProMedica is proud to be one of the founding members of the Healthcare Anchor Network because as a non-profit, mission based healthcare organization we believe it is imperative to invest in our communities and help to drive economic prosperity through local hiring, purchasing and investing strategies. The Network provides a forum where we can come together with peer institutions who share our commitment to Anchor Institution strategies and where we can develop innovative solutions to challenges, that will ultimately improve the health and well-being of those we serve. By focusing on inclusive economic strategies, health care can use its considerable breadth and depth to positively impact the economic determinants of health.”
former CEO and President,
“Our mission at Intermountain Healthcare is helping people live the healthiest lives possible.® It energizes us to improve the health of those who live in our communities. Healthcare has the opportunity to achieve this by addressing the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health. We’re striving to address these determinants in our business practices by practicing inclusive, local hiring while developing our supply chain toward more inclusive, local purchasing. We have also joined other Healthcare Anchor Network members in committing to being a place-based investor by dedicating a portion of our investments to local projects to generate measurable social and health impact, in addition to a modest financial return. We are designing these health impact investments to improve overall population health status, which will make healthcare more affordable for communities. The Healthcare Anchor Network provides a way for us to advance this work with our community partners, and it gives us many opportunities to learn from other innovative health systems.”
Former Senior Vice President and Chief Community Health Officer, Intermountain Health
“By our very nature, hospitals and health systems are anchor institutions in the neighborhoods we serve, and the well-being of our communities will always be an institutional priority. This is why Advocate Aurora Health was one of the co-founding members of the Healthcare Anchor Network, to convene the healthcare sector to implement socially responsible hiring, training, purchasing, and investment strategies. Healthcare can improve the social and economic factors that impact upstream determinants of health, lift local residents to strengthen our communities, and help lessen economic, racial and environmental inequities. The Healthcare Anchor Network helps us to advance new practices that help distressed communities to build up their local economy and community.”
Chief External Affairs Officer, Advocate Health
“Rush adopted a broader mission to ‘improve health’ in recognition of the ongoing health crises in the neighborhoods around our main campus on the West Side of Chicago. Significant health care inequities exist because there are additional factors that affect one’s health such as complex social, economic, and structural determinants of health including structural racism and economic deprivation. The anchor mission vision is part of Rush’s strategic plan and embedded in our institution’s DNA. We look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, what more can we do in this moment to be the change we want to see? The Healthcare Anchor Network helps us to accelerate the change process and our investing, hiring, purchasing, and volunteering in our communities, as well as amplify our message that racial equity must be central to our work as health care leaders and we must take action now.”
Dr. David Ansell
Senior Vice President for Community Health Equity, Rush University system for health
“As Henry Ford Health System continues to focus on uplifting healthy communities in the regions we serve, we lean on our relationship with the Healthcare Anchor Network for guidance, support, and sharing of critical information. It is vital that the entire healthcare sector explore and commit to investments in the social needs and determinants of health, and the HAN is leading the way to promote this activity and collaboration among its members. Henry Ford’s commitment to Detroit and the surrounding region is over a century old, yet continues to evolve as health and wellness needs change, and as we better understand their underpinnings. It is incumbent on leading health systems to orient their culture toward addressing persistent inequities, and we believe that active membership with HAN is a major component of our effort in this area.”
Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH & EQUITY, HENRY FORD HEALTH
“Recognizing the inseparable relationship between the social determinants of health and health outcomes, it is essential for health care to play a leadership role in addressing the systemic inequities that prevent members of our communities from experiencing good health. RWJBarnabas Health is extremely proud to be a co-founding member of the Healthcare Anchor Network. Together, as anchor institutions, we share a mission of developing more effective strategies and innovative solutions to leverage our purchasing, hiring, and investing to benefit the communities we serve.”
Barry H. Ostrowsky
Former PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RWJBARNABAS HEALTH