Health Equity requires that “everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier” by “removing obstacles to health such as poverty….. lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality of education and housing, safe environments, and health care.” Achieving health equity requires effective solutions by both investing in systems that are designed to improve social and economic conditions including housing, transportation, education, income and employment assistance, child and family supports, and legal and criminal justice services and integrating these investments into often disconnected medical and public health programs tasked with improving health.
Applying Social Accountability/Responsibility Standards (Student Recruitment, Selection and Support; Faculty Recruitment and Development, Educational Program, Research, and Governance, School Outcomes and Societal Impact) to academic institutions provides a mechanism to connect, collaborate, and integrate services to increase health equity with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of health service delivery for all.
One important Social Accountability Standard is Societal Impact. Societal Impact ensures that programs and schools are addressing evolving needs in the society, regions and communities they serve. Academic institutions need to regularly seek to evaluate the outcome of their efforts as well as the impact they are having on graduates and their practice. Ultimately, they should measure their impact on policies, practice and performance of the health system and health in the communities they serve. Assessing the effect of education strategies on health systems and population health is clearly challenging as it is influenced by a multitude of complex, interlinked, dynamic factors and conditions many of which are not within the control of the education institution. Consequently, researchers need to apply multiple methodologies to build evidence for attribution, contribution, and accountability. Schools striving towards greater accountability and impact are beginning to assess impact.
This edition, written by “pracademics”, focuses on articles in case study and story format that have reduced healthcare inequities and improved the impact on people’s health. Articles in this edition focus on productive partnerships with health actors including policy makers, health professionals, academic institutions, communities and health administrators.
The articles featured in this edition provide a framework that academic institutions and health systems to consider when measuring their societal impact.
 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. From Vision to Action: measures to Mobility a Culture of Health. Princeton: RWJF; 2015.
Co-Founder, Social Innovations Journal