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MI Public Health Newsletter: Fall 2023

MI Public Health Newsletter: Fall 2023

In This Newsletter

Programs at a Glance
Policy Updates
Milken Institute Public Health in the Community
In Case You Missed It
What’s Ahead
Connect with Us

Programs at a Glance

Mental Health

The Milken Institute Public Health portfolio includes a variety of mental health-focused projects. Most involve working with employers, particularly their role in prioritizing mental health, including substance use disorders, as part of a whole-person approach to total well-being. Some of this work entails private, invite-only forums, survey work, and deliverables focused on achieving better mental health through health-technology investment and innovation. We are pleased to share updates below on our active projects.

Mental Health Treatment Innovation Project

In the US, more than 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental health condition or disorder at some point in their lifetime. In 2020, over half of adults with mental health conditions did not seek treatment due to stigma, lack of knowledge of help, lack of resources or access to care, and lack of confidence in mental health treatments. The US has substantial gaps in mental health policy surrounding prevention, access, and equity. Furthermore, current mental health treatments do not match the growing demand.

There is a need for innovative, comprehensive treatments that appeal to a variety of people with mental health conditions. This spring, in partnership with Cybin, we began a Mental Health Treatment Innovation Project that touches upon the importance of treatment and medications to be innovative, customizable, scalable, and accessible. Our findings will culminate in a white paper, to be published in Q1 2024.

This topic will also be discussed during a panel at our upcoming Future of Health Summit, “Revolutionizing Mental Health Care through Innovation,” so be sure to check the event page for a link to the livestream.

Employee Mental Health Concerns and Workplace Solutions Project

In partnership with The Hartford, the Public Health team hosted a second “Closing the Gap: Learning, Listening, and Exploration Series” session. These invite-only roundtables are data-driven discussions addressing mental health priorities and challenges in the workplace. The first convening took place in June and focused on Next Gen Mental Health Concerns and Workplace Solutions. A summary featuring key insights can be found on our LinkedIn. Stay tuned for highlights from the second convening, which focused on how diversity, equity, and inclusion affect mental health in the workplace.

Employer Investments in Health Tech Innovation for Substance Use Disorders

In March 2019, we collaborated with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to host the Investment and Innovation Accelerator Forum. The event, designed to increase stakeholder awareness, featured a sample of small business interventions working to reach communities combating the opioid crisis—including prevention, diversion, treatment, and recovery perspectives. Drawing upon NIDA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, each company presented its innovative technologies and scalable community solutions to stakeholders at the event. Our team tracked the companies’ progress for a year and highlighted 10 innovators as they pivoted during the pandemic.

Following the Accelerator Forum, the Public Health team has conducted a series of discussions to capture lessons learned, barriers of entry or success, and ways to embed evidence-based research and outcomes into digital health tools addressing substance use disorders offered by employers. Our team has identified actionable ways to effectively incorporate evidence-based, employer-provided digital health tools for substance use disorders. We look forward to sharing insights and findings in Q1 2024.

Prevention and Chronic Disease

The Milken Institute Public Health team recently kicked off two projects that will harness the employer perspective to advance broader public health improvement goals for communities and individuals. With nearly half of the US population receiving health insurance through their workplace, employers are uniquely positioned to drive innovations in health quality, affordability, and equity.

  • One project is assessing how employers with sizeable workforces are taking action to offer better health care to employees and their families. As part of this effort, we are surveying key leaders to capture insights on the current landscape and attitudes surrounding employer-sponsored health insurance. If you are interested in learning more about this survey or completing it, please email Sarah Wells Kocsis.

  • A second project is exploring ways employers can be a catalyst in modernizing and reforming the management and care of obesity as a recognized chronic disease. With obesity prevalence increasing and disproportionally affecting certain communities across the US, while also creating tremendous economic burden on the US health-care system, there is an urgent need to develop and implement public health strategies that address disparities in multi-faceted care, disease state recognition, bias, and stigma. Through this work, we will identify actionable solutions for employers to embrace and drive meaningful impact.

Health Equity

Health Equity Advisory Panel Updates

The health equity advisory panel has met twice and identified its first task: to contribute to the literature and discussion in public health in two areas. The group divided into two subcommittees for these publications and their foci—health equity and social migration in response to policies that affect not only reproductive choices but also access to care and medications for those who are transgender or who have differences of sex development (also known as DSD or intersex). We anticipate publishing the piece, “Health Equity Is Not Health Equality,” ahead of our upcoming Future of Health Summit. The piece focused on social migration in response to health policies will be submitted for journal publication later this year. Check out our LinkedIn account for the latest on both these publications.

Collaborative Data Analytics

Together with Katherine Sacks, PhD, from the Milken Institute’s Research department, Senior Director Victoria Cargill, MD, worked closely with Mathew Whitest, MD, of Wayne Pharmaceuticals, who contributed to the Milken Institute’s pharmaceutical supply chain roundtable and serves on the health equity advisory panel. Having conducted an intensive death certificate review, Whitest shared his findings and concerns about the growing disparity occurring in his area of Crisp County, Georgia, with the Health Equity team and Milken Institute Research Department, who conducted additional analyses not only confirming the disparities but also their occurrence for almost two decades. Findings included premature death rates that were two times the state (Georgia) average and two and a half times that of the national average. Additional findings included fewer primary care providers for the area and that the rate of disparity increased significantly between 2015 and 2019, prior to the COVID epidemic. Cargill, Sacks, and Whitest provided additional comments for a news segment on these disparities and continue to work with local community members to address these findings.

Policy Updates

In July 2023, the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to mark up the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Act (PAHPA). On July 10, we submitted a comment letter to members of the HELP committee highlighting areas for consideration in future iterations of the bill. This policy brief outlines more about the legislation and key policy priorities to improve and strengthen the nation's biosecurity and preparedness infrastructure.

Milken Institute Public Health Team in the Community

We are delighted that members of our Public Health team and Advisory Board have been recognized externally and have taken part in speaking engagements.

July 2023

  • Senior Director Victoria Cargill served on the steering committee and participated in the Innovation Equity Forum July 6–7. The meeting was part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's collaboration with the National Institutes of Health's Office of Research on Women's Health to engage across sectors to promote women's health.

  • Director Sarah Wells Kocsis moderated a fireside chat with Healthcare Distribution Alliance’s SVP of communications and marketing, John Parker, on drivers of pharmaceutical supply chain resilience at Angels for Change SummitONE 2023, which focused on finding solutions to end shortages of life-saving drugs.

August 2023

September 2023

  • Senior Director Sabrina Spitaletta spoke at the International Monetary Fund, sharing insights from her work with employers prioritizing whole-person health within their organizations.

In Case You Missed It

Staff Updates

We are delighted to announce a new team member, Jason Richie, director, Public Health. He will focus on our mental health work, specifically our projects addressing the addiction crisis.

Interview Series: Executive Thought Leadership on Whole-Person Health in the Workplace

This LinkedIn article series features brief, meaningful insights on the importance of employers investing in human capital and adopting a whole-person health approach, captured through interviews between MI Health Senior Director Sabrina Spitaletta and executives across industries and sectors. Below are links to the first several installments of this series.

What’s Ahead

Upcoming Milken Institute Events

Be sure to keep an eye on the event page for the Future of Health Summit, taking place November 6–8 in Washington, DC, for updates and the full agenda.

Connect with Us

Check out our LinkedIn for regular updates about our publications, upcoming events, and other related news!