Across the health care field, there is increasing recognition that in order to improve outcomes for patients with complex needs, health systems must understand the priorities of the communities they serve and meaningfully incorporate consumer perspectives into program design. However, many challenges exist to doing so, including lack of trust, absence of established relationships, a lack of familiarity with or infrastructure to support consumer-health system collaboration, and underlying power imbalances even when parties are brought “to the table.” Despite these common hurdles, promising examples are emerging of health care organizations that are effectively incorporating voices from the community into program design to make services more responsive to consumer needs.

This webinar, made possible through support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and cosponsored by the Better Care Playbook, explored how two health care innovators are engaging communities and using consumer feedback to rethink how services are designed and delivered. Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York discussed its use of Participatory Action Research to identify community priorities and guide programmatic investments. Roots Community Health Center in Oakland, California shared its strategies for understanding community needs and empowering local residents with responsive and culturally appropriate services.


I. Welcome and Introduction

Speaker: Rachel Davis, Director for Complex Care, CHCS

R. Davis welcomed participants and provide an overview of the value of and opportunities for engaging and partnering with communities.

II. Maimonides Medical Center: Using Participatory Action Research to Forge Partnerships

Speakers: Shari Suchoff, Vice President, Population Health Policy and Strategy and Okenfe Lebarty, Senior Manager, Community Engagement, Maimonides Medical Center

S. Suchoff and O. Lebarty described how Maimonides Medical Center has used Participatory Action Research to understand the needs of its communities and guide its strategic thinking. They discussed how local Brooklyn students surveyed residents, built community relationships, and used these efforts to recommend approaches to improving neighborhood health needs.

III. Roots Community Health Center: Local Partnerships Serve to Empower Residents

Speaker: Noha Aboelata, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Roots Community Health Center

Dr. Aboelata introduced the Oakland-based Roots Community Health Center and highlight how it has partnered with their community to understand and address its needs. She discussed how Roots empowers its community members, including by starting its own social enterprise to create opportunities for those who have been disconnected from the workforce.

IV. Moderated Q&A

Moderator: Rachel Davis, Director, CHCS