Press Release

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC

Every Life. Every Day.

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC, National Minority Quality Forum, and Aetna Partner to address Equity in Heart Failure Care

New initiative will help develop strategies for reversing deadly disparities among African Americans


February 28, 2018—Aetna, the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), and its wholly-owned subsidiary Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC), have joined forces to analyze the underlying factors driving disparities in heart failure treatment and outcomes among African Americans relative to other populations. This collaboration will create an action plan for reducing the condition’s deadly and disproportionate toll on this population.


Heart failure (HF) contributes to 1 in 9 deaths in the United States, afflicting nearly 6 million adults and costing the nation more than $30 billion each year. In the Medicare program, HF accounts for more than one-third of the costs and 42 percent of hospital admissions.


African Americans are especially vulnerable. African Americans are more likely to develop HF, they develop it earlier, and they face a faster reduction in functioning and ultimately death. African Americans also account for a higher percentage of hospitalization and re-hospitalization. The efficacy of traditional treatments in African Americans reveals considerable unknowns as to the biological and genetic underpinnings of the disease in subpopulations, pointing to a need for further research. The HF disparity also reflects uncontrolled hypertension and suboptimal access to evidence-based care. Efforts to reduce the burden of HF on patients and the health care system must focus on African Americans and provision of evidence-based care for this population, including approaches common to all patients with HF, therapies uniquely beneficial to African Americans, further research into therapeutic genetics, and social determinants of health that contribute to disparities.


“Congestive heart failure disproportionately impacts African Americans. Unfortunately this all-too common condition has an earlier age of onset and follows a more severe course in this population.” said Dr. Harold L. Paz, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Aetna. “By partnering with NMQF and SHC, we will explore the factors that contribute to this racial health disparity, and collaboratively develop a strategy that advances evidence-based care with the goal of improving health equity.”


“We are extremely excited to be working with Aetna to document the research and treatment needs of African Americans with heart failure, so as to produce equity in future studies and care,” said Dr. Puckrein, Founder, CEO, and President of NMQF. “Neither patients nor payers can afford the status quo.”


Over the next few months, the organizations will convene leading experts, clinicians, patient representatives, and other stakeholders to establish a results-oriented plan for measurably enhancing HF outcomes among African Americans.

“This collaboration will produce an accountable roadmap to the application of evidence-based care for African Americans with HF,” notes Dr. Hall, COO and EVP of SHC, “that we will translate into results through advocacy, education, data analysis, and quality improvement.”


About the National Minority Quality Forum and Sustainable Healthy Communities

NMQF was founded by Gary A. Puckrein, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer in 1998 to address the critical need for strengthening national and local efforts to use evidence-based, data-driven initiatives to guide programs to eliminate the disproportionate burden of premature death and preventable illness for racial and ethnic minorities and other special populations. Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC, its wholly-owned subsidiary, is a pioneering health care improvement information company that continuously measures population health, providing actionable analysis to clinicians, health care systems, researchers, corporations, and policy-makers as well as patients, their care-givers, and community leaders. Through its exclusive data access, SHC uniquely promotes cost-effective health outcomes for all through big data analytics coupled with impactful visualization and education. The data analytics are reported in multiple formats guiding innovative efforts to achieve the triple aim—better health care, improving the health of the population and communities, and affordable care.


About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 37.9 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products
and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see and learn about how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews


For further information, please contact Laura Lee Hall, PhD, COO and EVP at Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC at or 202-854- 0667.



  1. Colvin M et al., Heart Failure in Non-Caucasians, Women and Older Adults, A White Paper on Special Populations from the Heart Failure Society of America Guideline Committee, Journal of Cardiac Failure Vol. 21 No. 8 2015.
  2. Yancy CW, Jessup M, Bozkurt B, Butler J, Casey DE Jr, Drazner MH, Fonarow GC, Geraci SA, Horwich T, Januzzi JL, Johnson MR, Kasper EK, Levy WC, Masoudi FA, McBride PE, McMurray JJV, Mitchell JE, Peterson PN, Riegel B, Sam F, Stevenson LW, Tang WHW, Tsai EJ, Wilkoff BL. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2013;128:e240–e327.

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC

Every Life. Every Day.

Program to Help Protect U.S. Seniors from Influenza Targets Disparities in Immunization

Leading Influenza Vaccine Manufacturer Partners with Major Health Equity Organization to Help Protect Seniors from Potentially Deadly Consequences of Flu

December 8, 2017—According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only two in three seniors receive an influenza immunization each year, despite the heightened risk of hospitalization and death in this population. Among all U.S. adults (18 years and older), far less than half are immunized against flu, with people of color having the lowest rate of vaccination coverage within both the younger adult and senior populations. This is evident in the following 2016-17 statistics for adults 65 years of age and older that show: 59.4% and 61.2% of black and Hispanic seniors, respectively, received the influenza vaccine while that number reached 66.6% among white seniors.
Today, Sanofi Pasteur, the world’s largest manufacturer of seasonal influenza vaccines, and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) are teaming up to promote equity in influenza immunization. NMQF and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC)—one of the nation’s leading advocates for health equity—are working alongside Sanofi Pasteur to increase persistently low influenza vaccination rates among people over 65 years of age, especially within the African American and Hispanic populations. The organizations share a commitment to promoting science-based population health and a dedication to health equity, including helping protect elderly citizens from influenza disease and its complications, including death.
The new partnership will probe claims and survey data to identify low vaccination rates within specific geographic regions and underserved populations. “Big data analysis provides enormous power for better understanding public health challenges; visualizing the data analytics on a map makes it possible for us to target education efficiently and effectively so as to improve outcomes,” Dr. Gary Puckrein, NMQF founder, CEO and President, explains.
Based on the data analytics, SHC will recruit clinicians and community leaders in pilot regions to provide training and support focusing on the importance of influenza vaccination and cost-effective strategies to promote increased rates in diverse populations.
Dr. Ayman Chit, Sanofi Pasteur Head of Health Economics and Epidemiology Research, adds, “Sanofi Pasteur is invested in real world evidence and big data to extract insights and design interventions to improve immunization rates and reduce disparities.”
The collaboration will begin its efforts to reduce disparities in influenza immunization, given that an average of 226,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths are due to flu-related illnesses each year in the U.S. with approximately 90% of hospitalizations and deaths occurring among the elderly.
Sanofi Pasteur produces Fluzone ® High-Dose (Influenza Vaccine), the high-dose, trivalent, inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV3-HD) with four times the hemagglutinin (HA) contained in standard dose influenza vaccines. A large clinical study has shown that among individual 65 years of age or older, the high-dose vaccine provides better protection against laboratory confirmed influenza-like illness compared to its standard-dose influenza vaccine comparator. A health economic evaluation based on that clinical study showed reduced hospitalization costs.
Studies have shown that among individuals 65 years of age or older, the high-dose vaccine stimulates a significantly higher antibody response, provides better protection against laboratory-confirmed influenza-like illness, and reduces hospitalizations and costs compared to its standard-dose influenza vaccine comparator.
Dr. Laura Lee Hall, SHC Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, notes of the data collaboration, “Using evidence-based strategies, we will support clinical teams and community leaders in achieving important population health and equity goals, expanding protection from preventable disease among seniors and underserved patients.” Dr. Bernard Rosof, CEO of SHC, agrees, noting, “our approach aligns with health quality’s quadruple aim of better care, outcomes, costs, and clinician satisfaction.”
About NMQF
NMQF, founded by Gary A. Puckrein, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer, in 1998, addresses the critical need for strengthening national and local efforts to use evidence-based, data-driven initiatives to guide programs to eliminate disproportionate premature death and preventable illness for racial and ethnic minorities and other special populations. SHC, its wholly-owned subsidiary, is a pioneering health care improvement information company that continuously measures population health, providing actionable analysis to clinicians, health care systems, researchers, corporations, and policy-makers as well as patients, care-givers, and community leaders. Through its exclusive data access, SHC uniquely promotes cost-effective health outcomes for all through big data analytics coupled with impactful visualization and education. The data analytics are reported in multiple formats guiding innovative efforts to achieve the triple aim—better health care, improving the health of the population and communities, and affordable care.
Fluzone High-Dose vaccine should not be given to anyone with a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any vaccine component, including eggs, egg products, or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine.
Tell your doctor if you have ever experienced Guillain-Barré syndrome (severe muscle weakness) after a previous dose of influenza vaccine. If you notice any other problems or symptoms following vaccination, please contact your health care professional immediately.
The most common side effects to Fluzone High-Dose vaccine include pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site; muscle aches, fatigue, and headache. Other side effects may occur. Vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose vaccine may not protect all individuals.
Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is given to people 65 years of age and older to help prevent influenza disease caused by influenza A and B strains contained in the vaccine.
For more information about Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, talk to your health care professional and see complete Patient Information.
About Sanofi
Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions.
With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.
Sanofi, Empowering Life
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur produces a portfolio of high quality vaccines that matches its areas of expertise and meets public-health demand. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or
For more information contact Dr. Laura Lee Hall at SHC:

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC

Every Life. Every Day.

National Minority Quality Forum awarded Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation grant to promote lung cancer screening in rural Kentucky

Builds on initiative promoting equity in cancer research, screening, treatment, and outcomes

December 1, 2017—New data from the National Minority Quality Forum indicate that 77% of all lung cancer cases reside in 20% of all zip codes. Lung cancer is the second-most-commonly-diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, with marked demographic and regional variations. The toll of lung cancer in Kentucky is the worst in the nation, killing at a rate fifty percent higher than the national average in the rest of the country. The main drivers of this disease are obesity, smoking, and lack of screening. Notably, the risks for lung cancer in Kentucky are not equally distributed throughout the state, as a much higher incidence is seen in regions on the eastern side of the state near the Appalachian Mountains. Unfortunately, this rural region continues to struggle with barriers to early screening and effective prevention and treatment due to long-standing shortages of primary care providers, coupled with lower levels of education and income/wealth than in most of the state, and the nation.

In response to this clear need, the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) is proud to announce its receipt of a Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation award to help primary care teams in rural Kentucky increase lung cancer screening for at-risk patients.  Over the course of 18 months, NMQF will work with practice teams, patient advocates, the Kentucky’s flagship lung cancer initiative — the KY LEADS Collaborative, national and local experts and the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Physicians to help increase lung cancer screening among patients most at need.

“We are excited to expand the work of the KY Leads Collaborative to rural parts of the state and to ultimately help more patients,” says John Damonti, President of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “The partnership with National Minority Quality Forum is vital to help health care providers reach the most at-risk patients in the most remote locations, to ultimately help change the outcomes for lung cancer patients in Kentucky.”

This initiative is one of several activities under the Diverse Cancer Communities Working Group, launched in response to the Biden Cancer Moonshot and promoting equity in cancer research, prevention, screening, treatment, and outcomes.  The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation funded initiative will work with primary care practices who serve patients in high risk regions of KY for non-small cell lung cancer, helping them use their whole practice team to more strongly and effectively communicate with their at-risk patients and effectively promote screening.  The practices and their patients will utilize the educational materials developed by the Kentucky LEADS program.

“We are honored to have the Bristol-Myers Squib Foundation’s support to continue the important work of preventing lung cancer in Kentucky.  The Bristol-Myers Squib Foundation and the KY-LEADS Collaborative have been leaders in developing patient-centered educational materials that we will work to help doctors and nurses implement in real world practice,” notes Dr. Hall, COO/EVP of NMQF wholly-owned subsidiary Sustainable Healthy Communities or SHC.  “We look forward to focusing on patients with the highest lung cancer risk and supporting some of the busiest practices in the states, struggling to serve large populations with many barriers to good outcomes.”   Dr. Hall continues “this program aims to support these dedicated practices in serving their patients.”

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation promotes health equity and seeks to improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease. This initiative, Bridging Cancer Care, focuses on projects that seek to reduce the burden of lung cancer among minority and underserved populations through innovative models of prevention, detection and education, and by helping people living with lung cancer access and navigate cancer care and community-based supportive services.

The Diverse Communities Cancer Working Group is chaired by Jeanne M. Regnante and includes the following partners:
Merck & Co.
Amgen, Inc.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
NIH Precision Medicine: All of Us
Takeda Oncology
AbbVie, Inc
Celgene Corporation
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Eli Lilly and Company
American College of Surgeons
University of Kentucky Healthcare
Genentech, Inc.
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Biden Cancer Initiative
For further information, please contact Laura Lee Hall, PhD, COO and EVP at Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC at or 202-854- 0667.

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC

Every Life. Every Day.

Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force Formed to Highlight the Needs of Underserved Patients

Leading Patient Advocates, Experts, Institutions, and Research Innovators Join to Promote Equitable and Comprehensive Diabetes Care


November 30, 2017—Sustainable Healthy Communities (SHC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF)—one of the nation’s leading advocates for health equity—has partnered with some of the nation’s leading advocacy groups, experts, academic institutions, and innovators to promote equitable, community-based and patient-centered care for those suffering from diabetes, co-morbid illness, and inadequate access and resources.

Although diabetes is widely discussed by policy makers and medical leaders alike, the outsized impact of diabetes on people of color and the poor is often lost in the debate.  Our analysis of the Medicare fee-for-service program—through which 40 percent of individuals with diabetes are served—shows that: 80 percent of people living with diabetes reside in less than 1/4th of U.S. zip codes, more than half of which are minority majority, that is more than 50 percent of the resident population are non-white.  NMQF Founder, CEO, and President, Dr. Gary Puckrein observes that “these patients disproportionately face challenges accessing health care, live at or near the poverty level, and suffer co-morbid heart and kidney disease, experiencing repeated hospitalizations, imposing tremendous costs, and ultimately shortened lifespans.”

“Diabetes in underserved and vulnerable populations produces a vicious cycle of emergency room use, expensive hospitalization, a disconnect from ambulatory care and social supports, nonadherence to effective therapies and monitoring, and concomitant disease,” laments SHC Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Dr. Laura Lee Hall, “leading to increasing levels of disease and suffering for the patient, and cost to society.”  Dr. Bernard Rosof, CEO and President of SHC asserts that “the dilemma of the underserved patient with diabetes is the epitome of unsustainability and opposes the very definition of patient-centered, health-literate, community- and evidence-based, compassionate care.  It’s neither professionally nor morally acceptable.”

Health care leaders’ shared sense of urgency led to the creation of the Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force.  Corporate Working Group chair Mr. Bruce T. Taylor, a Dexcom executive and diabetes patient himself, decries the unacceptable irony of “living and working in an era of incredible innovation in medicines and technologies that can enhance both the length and quality of life for people with diabetes, yet some of the patients most in need do not have access or support.  Dexcom’s participation in the Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force signals our commitment to promoting optimal outcomes for all patients with diabetes.”

Long-time diabetes researcher, clinician, and advocate Dr. Jaime Davidson co-leads the SHC working group and commends the focus on underserved and diverse populations.  “Too many people of color, immigrants, and the poor are deprived of even basic medical care, leaving them in the shadows until they turn up at our hospitals with their disease out of control,” says Davidson.  “It is our duty to reach out to these populations in the community and prevent the downward spiral that ends with amputation, heart disease, and kidney failure.”

The Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force will focus producing an up-to-date diabetes index mapping data on:  patient demographic and clinical characteristics and diagnoses; health care access and utilization including medications, ambulatory care, ER use and hospitalizations, and costs; and social determinants of health.  Visualization of diabetes footprint across the nation can help guide resource allocation as well as support communities in doing their own diabetes community assessment.

The group also is supporting a pilot program in Brooklyn, NY, in collaboration with regional partners the State University of New York (SUNY)-Downstate Medical Center, School of Public Health, and Nursing School, and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.  The effort will train and support primary care providers and community leaders to promote patient-centered diabetes care that better connects the at-risk patients with ambulatory care and needed social supports.  Dr. Wayne J. Riley, president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center and President Emeritus of the American College of Physicians, summarizes the importance of the initiative in “bringing a sustainable approach to helping the Brooklyn population achieve better health outcomes.  SUNY Downstate Medical Center is committed to making the care, training, and research we deliver serve our community, as this project will.”   Organizational and expert members of the Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force are listed in the table below.  To learn more about our efforts or become a member contact


Expert Members of the Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force
Chair –  Jaime A. Davidson, MD
Clinical Professor of Medicine
Touchstone Diabetes Center
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD
CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Healing Our Village, Inc
Clinical Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine
Marie T. Brown, MD
Associate Professor, Rush Medical College Senior Physician Advisor, Physician Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability Group
American Medical Association
David Marrero, PhD
Director of the Center for Health disparities Research
University of Arizona Health Sciences
A. Enrique Caballero, MD
Harvard Medical School
Founder, Latino Diabetes Initiative
Joslin Diabetes Center
Anna Norton, MS
John D. Couk, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division
Christopher G. Parkin
CGParkin Communications, Inc.
Keith C. Ferdinand, MD
Professor of Medicine
Tulane Heart and Vascular Institute
Tulane University School of Medicine
Gloria A. Wilder, MD
Vice President, Centene Corporation
Corporate Members of the Diabetes Working Group and Equity Task Force
AstraZeneca Merck
Centene Novo Nordisk
Dexcom Sanofi
Eli Lilly and Company

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC

Every Life. Every Day.

National Minority Quality Forum Announces Creation of New Company, Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC (SHC)

SHC to Broadly Expand Health Data Mapping and Education, Promoting Health Equity and Strategic Resource Management


Washington, DC, December 16, 2016 – The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) announced today the creation of Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC (SHC), a pioneering company dedicated to providing big data analytics, mapping, and education to measure and improve population health in every community. The SHC business model is built on the premise that critical intelligence is required for health care systems, research organizations, policy-makers, clinicians, and the public to work toward sustainable improvements in patient outcomes at the community level.

Dr. Gary Puckrein, Chief Executive Officer of SHC, asserts that he has founded this new company to help stake-holders use the unprecedented amount of data available today. “Health care system stake-holders, including patients and clinicians, are bombarded by data, without the tools to translate it into improved population health. SHC will clearly communicate actionable data analyses, so that equitable and sustainable improvements can be achieved in each community. We are committed to understanding and reporting on patterns of preventable events—disease, hospitalizations, medical errors, disabilities and deaths—not only as indicators of health care finance and delivery system problems but to capture the community context for such outcomes, and most importantly, generate solutions that can guide the systematic, expeditious discovery and distribution of medical care to improve the quality of life and promote longevity for diverse populations in a timely and cost efficient manner.”


SHC will release health indices in a variety of formats, including disease-specific atlases and maps, detailed statistical reports, chart books, and other summary analyses. The data are drawn from public and private sources that heretofore have not been integrated or available at a central location. SHC has exclusive publishing rights to the NMQF data. Beyond presentation of data in a way that can be understood, SHC offers services for translating the data analytics into meaningful action, including research and advisory group support, education of clinicians and consumer advocates, and recruitment for clinical trials based on geomaps.


Dr. Laura Lee Hall, joining SHC as its Chief Operating Officer, brings more than 25 years of experience with health data analysis, research, advocacy, education, and quality improvement, especially for patients and clinical teams facing chronic illness, disability, and significant gaps in care. “I am extremely excited to be part of the leadership launching this new company.   Its approach perfectly syncs with 21st century opportunities for promoting sustainable health, by harnessing big data and supporting its use at the community level. On the heels of the U.S. election, there is probably no better time to map health outcomes and contributing factors across diverse populations and regions, so as to promote the triple aim—better care, outcomes, and value—and health equity and innovation.”

Dr. Bernard Rosof is the SHC President. Dr. Rosof is at the forefront of national initiatives in the areas of quality and performance improvement. In addition to his role as President of SHC, Dr. Rosof is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Quality in HealthCare Advisory Group (QHC) and serves in a leadership capacity on numerous national and international bodies promoting health care quality. “I am deeply committed to the mission of SHC and confident that it will achieve its goals of promoting sustainable health for all of our citizens. Applying the tools of big data, patient centered care and community engagement gives me the confidence that innovations in American health care will help us achieve our goals of better and affordable care for the nation; every life, every day, as our tag line states.”

# # #

Media Contact: Laura Lee Hall, PhD,


About Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC

Sustainable Healthy Communities, LLC (SHC) is a Washington, DC-based for-profit organization launched by NMQF to publish health indices, coupled to communications, hosting of technical and community meetings, provider and community education, research, and clinical trial recruitment services, aimed at promoting health equity and the triple aim. Visit our website at


About the National Minority Quality Forum

The National Minority Quality Forum (The Forum) is a Washington, DC-based not-for-profit, non-partisan, independent research and education organization dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare that is available for and provided to all populations. The Forum develops user-friendly, web-based disease indices that provide a unique two-dimensional view of the prevalence and impact of diseases by zip code, including diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. Visit our website at Look for us on Facebook (National Minority Quality Forum), and follow us on Twitter (


About QHC Advisory Group

QHC Advisory Group ( is dedicated to delivering cost-effective and sustainable solutions that improve care and help our clients meet their goals. Our organization is distinguished by the national experience of its senior leadership team, the scope and quality of its consultative work, by its personal and long-term relationships, and by its accomplished track record and connectivity with clients.