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Jen Rosio, University of Utah Health
Healthcare Anchor Network: Collaborative Progress for Community Health
In 2019, University of Utah Health joined the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN), a nationwide group of healthcare systems working together to tackle structural determinants of health and create equitable health outcomes. U of U Health HAN leaders RyLee Curtis and Lisa Dyson share what this partnership means for our local health system and communities.

Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) is a group of 70+ hospitals across the nation that recognize that healthcare systems are large economic engines in their communities. This network encourages the use of intentional business practices that positively impact both the local economy and the overall health and wellbeing of surrounding communities.

The University of Utah Health joined HAN in 2019 after learning about it through our partner healthcare system, Intermountain Health. As part of HAN, we learn and share with other hospitals across the nation through a yearly national conference and other focused group meetings throughout the year. These meetings give us a chance to share best practices in hiring, purchasing, sustainability and investing in ways that benefit our community.

We, along with other HAN members, also collect data to monitor our progress in improving business practices. For instance, we have pledged to hire at least 10% of new hires from economically disadvantaged areas by 2027. We share this data, and other data we collect, with the entire network to help develop national progress benchmarks and co-design metrics for impact commitments.

All of this knowledge sharing has helped us change the way we do business so we can have the greatest possible positive impact on our community.

How will HAN impact U of U Health and the community?

HAN helps us create intentional business practices that benefit people who live in communities that systems have historically not invested in. Using HAN best practices, we can focus on individuals who may have faced barriers to employment due to factors such as lacking access to living wage jobs, lack of access to education, training, and other challenges.

We are working with our co-located university and forming community partnerships. Together, we can work with community organizations who are already striving to place economically disadvantaged people in jobs to create pathways to employment at University of Utah.

We are also scrutinizing our job descriptions when hiring to ensure they don’t create any unnecessary barrier to employment. Over-inflated job descriptions may require educational levels that aren’t actually necessary and may keep people out of jobs they could perform well in.

We are also developing apprenticeships for medical assistants, pharmacy technicians and surgical technicians that allow individuals to earn a living wage while training. They can commit to working for University of Utah Health after graduation for a certain amount of time and in exchange, we pay their tuition. These programs give individuals a pathway to employment and training they may not have had access to before. 

We are also being more intentional with our purchasing practices to ensure we are supporting our community as much as possible. Before making purchasing decisions, we ask questions like, is there a community partner I should be engaging in before I make this purchasing decision? Are there diverse chambers of commerce that we should be partnering with to train diverse businesses to bid on contracts with University of Utah Health and how do we build that program up?

By leveraging the principles and the practices we learn through HAN, we are doing more than just providing healthcare to our community.

We are improving social determinants of health by creating educational and employment pathways for people living here and uplifting equitable opportunities.

How we’re prioritizing equity and inclusion through HAN

HAN principles also put an emphasis on improving diversity, equity and inclusion within our healthcare system. Since becoming a member of the Healthcare Anchor Network, we have joined at least 75% of the minority chambers of commerce in our area, such as the Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce.

While joining is the easy first step, we are working to partner with these groups to find minority and women-owned businesses that can be trained to do business with a system as large as our healthcare system. We are looking to partner with them to hire a more diverse workforce through training programs and Talent Acquisition Events.

This also helps us build a workforce that looks like our community. We feel it's critical to invest in building a more diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the needs and experiences of the patients that we serve. This inclusive workforce strengthens the quality of care our patients receive.

How we are prioritizing green initiatives in purchasing

HAN also puts an emphasis on using sustainable purchasing practices to reduce our impact on the environment. Working with Alexis Pearl Lee, Director of Environmental and Social Sustainability at University of Utah Health, we are tracking metrics such as how much waste we are producing. We are working together to reduce the use of single-use plastics and trying to find local supplies for food, while reducing food waste.

Next steps

As we continue to work toward better hiring and purchasing practices, we’ll continue to collect data and share information with other healthcare systems in the network through meetings and presentations. We’ll continue to hold ourselves accountable and learn from others to improve what we do.

Most of all, we’ll continue to participate in healthy competition or cooperative competition that HAN provides. Through our membership, we are partnering with other local healthcare systems, we may be in healthy competition with each other, but we all have the same goal of improving the health and wellbeing of our community.

Together, we can have the greatest positive impact on our communities.


Special thanks to our teams and individuals who have made this partnership with the Healthcare Anchor Network possible.

HAN Liaison

  • RyLee Curtis

Impact Workforce

  • Christian Sherwood
  • Lisa Dyson
  • Erin Clouse

Impact Purchasing

  • Brian Pollick
  • Ken Carlisle


  • Alexis Pearl Lee
  • Mercedes Anto

U of U Campus

  • Cameron Michael Wright

RyLee Curtis

Director, Community Engagement, University of Utah Health

Lisa Dyson

Director of Talent Acquisition, Human Resources, University of Utah Health

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