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2022 Health Agenda

The world has changed. And as we enter our third decade, the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) is changing too.

Coloradans are navigating growing challenges brought about by fragmented systems of care, a changing climate, and myriad adversities that test our mental health. CHI is committed to leading in these three areas, which will define the future of health in Colorado.

For the past 20 years, CHI has worked to make Colorado a healthier place. Our first decade largely focused on improving access to care. Our second focused on broadening our work to include social and economic drivers of health. Over time, we expanded our view of both health and policy and broadened our portfolio and the impact of our work. Health equity, always a value in our work, is paramount in all that we do. As we enter our third decade, we are using what we have learned in our first 20 years to address the three major problems most urgently in need of solving if we are to achieve our mission of improving health for all Coloradans:

Integrating Systems of Care

Social, human, and health services that are integrated can improve people’s health outcomes far more than one element alone. Yet our systems continue to be antiquated and fragmented. CHI will play a significant role in integrating community-based services with medical care.

In 2022 — CHI will support the creation of integrated systems of care that work for all Coloradans, now and in the decades to come.

We are bringing our skills in convening, shared governance, and community engagement to help Colorado develop integrated health and social care systems. This includes establishing shared governance for social health information exchange in the metro Denver region that will allow partners to identify and meet their diverse priorities. We are collaborating with community organizations and government partners to ensure that new federal and state funds create lasting change. And we are working with community members, social service agencies, health systems, community-based organizations, and local public health agencies, including the Metro Denver Partnership for Health, to identify priority health issues and find solutions that cross sectors and political boundaries.

Behavioral Health

We will advance policies and practices that improve mental health outcomes for our state’s future generations.

In 2022 — CHI will work to advance the creation of a behavioral health system that truly serves all Coloradans.

At CHI, we are training our focus on Colorado’s continued behavioral health transformation efforts. We are supporting the Behavioral Health Administration as it launches. We are leading state and community leaders as they develop plans to better serve people who are involved in the criminal justice and behavioral health systems by advancing crisis supports, co-responder programs, community policing, jail-based services, and diversion practices. We are working with public health and health systems to build capacity to promote perinatal mental health. We are building power among youth and community leaders to prevent and treat behavioral health crises among Colorado’s young people. And we are equipping local and state changemakers with evidence, data, and community-led solutions to create a more equitable, accessible, intuitive, and high-quality behavioral health system.

Climate and Health

We need look no further than the devastating fires of December 2021 to recognize the need to adapt to a changing climate. Our goal is to equip every community in Colorado with essential tools, insight, and analysis to drive sound adaptation policies that center health equity.

In 2022 — CHI will provide communities across the state with the resources and insights they need to create climate adaptation plans. We also will develop a statewide policy agenda that addresses the health impacts of a changing climate and brings together health and climate stakeholders to promote effective adaptation practices.

CHI is leading research to create momentum and political will for an evidence-based climate adaptation policy agenda. We are identifying promising policy approaches in areas including infrastructure, air quality, mental health, and access to nature. We are collaborating with local leaders to illuminate and find solutions for local problems and populations. And we are ensuring that people who are likely to be most affected by climate change are at the center of conversations about and plans for the future.

CHI is committed to improving health for all Coloradans through evidence, research, and analysis. For two decades, we have shaped health policy and practice. We have advised state legislators, collaborated with policymakers, convened and led decision-makers as they grappled with complex problems, incubated initiatives to improve health, and partnered with numerous state agencies and community-based organizations.

Our expertise in health data, evidence-based research, and analysis gives us useful tools to advance health equity in Colorado. We identify challenges and quantify disparities so that we can, collectively, address them. We recognize the value of lived experience, and we are dedicated to partnering with and listening to the communities most affected by inequities.

Policies have played — and still play — a key role in driving health inequities in Colorado. Systemic racism and the impact of discriminatory policies affect where people live, work, and play. Policies can also address injustices and oppressive dynamics that limit people’s ability to thrive.

Achieving health equity requires the involvement of all of us. CHI is committed to working to make sure that this value is at the center of our work together.

CHI’s three initiatives — integrating systems of care, behavioral health, and climate change — each target an area where addressing inequities is vitally important, and where there are opportunities to think and work differently to improve health and social factors for all Coloradans.

CHI will continue to provide vital research and analysis on emerging trends and opportunities. And we will continue to produce analytical reports and resources to improve health, inform the state’s pandemic response, and examine legislative news and urgent issues of the day.

As Colorado’s challenges have grown, we believe focusing on these three pillars offers the best opportunity to improve health in Colorado. We look forward to building on 20 years of expertise and trusted partnership with Colorado’s health community.

Our Foundational Work

Learn more about how CHI integrates systems of care.

Read about our seminal work in behavioral health.

Understand our emphasis on climate and health.


Support our Work

This is an ambitious agenda — and we need supporters and collaborators to advance behavioral health, integrate systems of care, and prepare for a changing climate. We believe taking on these bold initiatives with an evidence-based, nonpartisan lens will lead to a healthier, more equitable Colorado. Contact Sara Schmitt to learn how to support this work.

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