Archive for the ‘Social Determinants of health’ Category

Infographic: Should Ride-sharing Be Added to a Healthcare Benefit Plan?

April 8th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

As the public discourse continues to focus on the high cost of healthcare, an increasing number of payers and healthcare organizations are turning to ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft for non-emergency medical transportation, according to a new infographic by Healthcare Town Hall based on an article by Milliman.

The infographic outlines a number of considerations for healthcare organizations thinking of adding ride-sharing as part of a benefit plan.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved PopulationsAs one of the poorest urban congressional districts in the country, the Bronx, a New York City borough, was also rated as the last county (#62) in New York for health outcomes and health factors by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In reaction, the Bronx Health REACH initiative formed the “#Not62,” campaign to transform the health of the community.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved Populations highlights the models of change and key initiatives developed through Bronx Health REACH’s community health transformation project.

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Infographic: Addressing Social Health Determinant Barriers to Better Health

February 20th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

Addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) has become a top priority for public and private healthcare institutions, according to a new infographic by BCBS ProgressHealth.

The infographic examines how Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are addressing SDOH.

Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community ServicesLeveraging the experience of several physician practices already screening patients for social determinants of health (SDOH), Montefiore Health System recently rolled out a two-tiered assessment program to measure SDOH positivity in its predominantly high-risk, government-insured population.

Assessing Social Determinants of Health: Screening Tools, Triage and Workflows to Link High-Risk Patients to Community Services outlines Montefiore’s approach to identifying SDOH markers such as housing, finances, healthcare access and violence that drive 85 percent of patients” well-being, and then connecting high-need individuals to community-based services. Click here for more information.

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Infographic: Blueprint for Complex Care

January 11th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

The United States spends more on healthcare than any other industrialized nation, and much of that spending is concentrated on a small percentage of individuals with complex medical, behavioral, and social needs, according to a new infographic by the Center for Health Care Strategies.

The infographic highlights recommendations for advancing the field, based on input from stakeholders across the country.

Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex Populations Asked by its C-suite to quantify contributions of its multidisciplinary care team for its highest-risk patients, AltaMed Health Services Corporation readily identified seven key performance metrics associated with the team. Having demonstrated the team’s bottom line impact on specialty costs, emergency room visits, and HEDIS® measures, among other areas, the largest independent federally qualified community health center (FQHC) was granted additional staff to expand care management for its safety net population.

The Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex Populations chronicles AltaMed’s four-phase rollout of care coordination for dual eligibles—a population with higher hospitalization and utilization and care costs twice those of any other population served by AltaMed.

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Infographic: How Housing Affordability Matters in Healthcare

January 9th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

Housing affordability is a social determinant of health. A lack of affordable housing contributes to housing instability and homelessness, both of which are strong predictors of higher healthcare costs and poor health outcomes, according to a new infographic by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

The infographic breaks down the issue of unaffordable rents and explores how state Medicaid policy can alleviate the burden of unaffordable rents.

Homelessness and Healthcare: Creating a Safety Net for Super Utilizers with Medical Bridge HousingChronic homelessness and chronic illness often go hand in hand; individuals struggling with housing insecurity frequently suffer a range of health problems that require hospitalization. Unfortunately, lacking stable housing where they can recuperate renders these newly discharged patients more likely to return to the hospital.

Recognizing that housing is healthcare, many healthcare organizations, particularly hospitals, now seek ways to address this social determinant of health (SDOH) by identifying housing barriers in their communities and developing initiatives to improve housing availability.

Homelessness and Healthcare: Creating a Safety Net for Super Utilizers with Medical Bridge Housing spotlights a California partnership that provides medical ‘bridge’ housing to homeless patients following hospitalization. This recuperative care initiative reduced avoidable hospital readmissions and ER visits and significantly lowered costs for the collaborating organizations.

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10 Critical Care Coordination Model Elements for Medicaid Managed Care Members

May 17th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

There are 10 critical elements of the care coordination model for Independent Health Care Plan (iCare) Medicaid managed care members, according to Lisa Holden, vice president of accountable care, iCare.

The first element and touchpoint for Medicaid managed care members is their care coordinator. “Every single one of our incoming SSI Medicaid members is assigned to a care coordinator,” Holden told participants in the May 2018 webinar, Medicaid Member Engagement: A Telephonic Care Coordination Relationship-Building Strategy, now available for replay. “That person is responsible for everything to do with that member’s coordination of care.”

Care coordinators are assigned to every Medicaid member and are responsible for engaging and coordinating member’s care needs.

“We want our care coordinators to make an initial phone call as early as a couple of days after the member is enrolled in our plan,” she said. “If the member is interested in having a conversation, we offer to conduct a health risk assessment. But if the timing isn’t right, then we offer to schedule another appointment. There’s no pressure except that we want them to feel engaged by us.”

Once completed, the health risk assessment forms the basis of an interdisciplinary individualized care plan created by the care coordinator with the member.

The care coordinator, who is a social worker by background, has access to a nurse, who is available for medically complex members, said Holden.

iCare also relies on health coaches. Health coaches are now teaming up with a care coordinator as much as, if not more than, the nurses are historically, Holden said.

“Our health coaches are literally assigned to work in the community to become very familiar with the resources that are available,” she added. “They are becoming steeped in the communities in which they serve. Each one is assigned to a neighborhood, and we’ve asked them, ‘Get to know the police. Get to know the fire. Get to know the food organizations and food pantries. Get to know the housing specialists in your area.'”

The health coaches also help the care coordinators locate difficult-to-contact members by being in the community as a boots on the ground force. They’re also focused on assessing and addressing social determinants of health.

“We really believe that health coaches are going to be the key to our success in this year and in years to come,” Holden explained.

In addition to the care coordinators, health coaches and nurses, the care coordination team includes two specialized positions…a trauma-informed intervention specialist and a mental health and substance abuse intervention specialist. “We brought those two specialties into this program for our Medicaid members because we know that there’s a high instance of behavioral health conditions, which usually has another diagnosis of alcohol and drug use, not always, but quite often. We wanted to have the team ready to engage the member,” said Holden.

Once the member is engaged, iCare’s care coordination team begins to identify unmet needs, she explained. “We want to know, ‘Is their life going well? Do they have appropriate medical care? Are they in a relationship with a primary care provider that they feel is co-respectful? Are they getting their answers to their questions?'”

To begin talking about medical needs, the care coordination team has to establish trust, said Holden. “We have to talk with the member in an honest way that reflects our respect for them and also engages them in order for them to tell us how they really feel.”

iCare uses the Patient Activation Measure tool to help identify where the member is in a spectrum of four different levels of activation. iCare then tailors its member engagement approach to build a trusting relationship and provide member education by recognizing where they are in their activation level.

Following up on preventive measures are key for the iCare care coordination model. Care coordinators reach out to members for care plan updates. The care plan has to be alive and very member-centric, said Holden. The health risk assessment is repeated each year and the care plan is updated based on those results.

iCare is also focusing on social determinants of health with the recognition that they impact a members’ health more than clinical care. Clinical care attributes to only about 20 percent of somebody’s health outcomes; the rest of that 80 percent is made up of by health behaviors, social and economic factors, and physical environment. “If we don’t get underneath those issues, we can ask for things to improve, but we’re going to see minimal success,” Holden added.

During the webinar, Holden also shared: how the care coordinators helps Medicaid members overcome barriers to care; seven rising risk/acuity identification tools; readmission prevention initiatives for high-risk patients; three programs aimed at reducing high emergency department utilization; and details on a Follow-to-Home program for members who are homeless. Holden also shared: details on language to use…and not to use…when engaging members; advice on the best time to connect with members by phone, such as time of day, specific days of the months; the role of the specialist interventionist compared to the care coordinator; and the background of iCare’s care coordinators and health coaches.

Click here to view the webinar today or order a DVD or CD of the conference proceedings.

Infographic: Children’s Health and Neighborhood Amenities

May 7th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews


Ten percent of children nationwide (approximately 7,059,000 children) lived in neighborhoods with no amenities in 2016, defined as a neighborhood without any parks, recreation centers, sidewalks, or libraries, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NCSH), which was recently released.

A new infographic by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center highlights state-specific findings from the 2016 NCSH on measures that illustrate where states are closer to achieving a culture of health and where improvements can be made.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved PopulationsAs one of the poorest urban congressional districts in the country, the Bronx, a New York City borough, was also rated as the last county (#62) in New York for health outcomes and health factors by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In reaction, the Bronx Health REACH initiative formed the “#Not62,” campaign to transform the health of the community.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved Populations highlights the models of change and key initiatives developed through Bronx Health REACH’s community health transformation project.

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2018 Success Strategy: Differentiate to Survive Next Wave of Healthcare

January 5th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Are supermarkets the next wave of healthcare?

Perhaps not, but if a health insurer can move into the community pharmacy, why not the local grocery store?

On the heels of the recent non-traditional CVS Health-Aetna merger and amidst other swirling consolidation rumors, industry thought leaders are encouraging healthcare organizations to embrace similar partnerships and synergies.

And given the presence of pharmacies inside many supermarkets, “there is potential for greater synergies around what we eat, what we buy and how our healthcare is actually purchased or delivered,” suggests David Buchanan, president of Buchanan Strategies.

“The bonanza [from this merger] might be where data can be shared between CVS’s customers and Aetna’s customers and whether we can steer those CVS customers to Aetna,” he added.

Buchanan and Brian Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services for Crowe Horwath, sketched a roadmap to help healthcare providers and payors navigate the key trends, challenges and opportunities that beckon in 2018 during Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning Session, a December 2017 webinar now available for rebroadcast.

Key guideposts on the road to success: data analytics, consolidation, population health management, patient and member engagement, and telemedicine, among other indicators. Also, organizations shouldn’t hesitate to test-drive new roles in order to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

“If you are not differentiated, you will not survive in what is a very fluid marketplace,” Sanderson advised.

Honing in on the healthcare provider perspective, Sanderson posed five key questions to help shape physician, hospital and health system strategies, including, “What are the powerful patterns?” Industry mergers, an infusion of private equity money into areas like ambulatory care and emerging value-based payment models fall into this category, he suggested.

These patterns were echoed in four primary trends Sanderson outlined as shaping the direction of the healthcare market, which faces an increasingly “impatient” patient. “I could tell you the market wants care everywhere,” he said. “In the same way we have become impatient with our commoditized goods, so have patients become impatient with accessing care.”

Among these trends are “unclear models of reimbursement,” he noted, adding that after a self-imposed “pause” relative to healthcare reimbursement at the start of a new presidential administration, the industry is ready to “restart with some new sponsors now.”

Notably, Sanderson advised providers to embrace population management. “Don’t think population health, think population management. It’s no longer just the clinical aspects of a patient’s or a population’s health. It’s the overall management of their well-being.”

Following Sanderson’s five winning strategies for healthcare provider success, David Buchanan outlined his list of hot-button items for insurers, which ranged from the future of Obamacare and member engagement to telemedicine, healthcare payment costs and models and trends in Medicare and Medicaid.

Healthcare payors should not underestimate the value of engaging its members, who today possess higher levels of health literacy, he stated. “The member must be an integral part of healthcare transactions, as are the provider, the facility and the insurer. The member must have a greater level of personal responsibility and engagement in the process.”

Offering members wearable health technologies like fitness trackers is one way insurers might engage individuals in their health while creating ‘stickiness’ and member allegiance to the health plan.

Telemedicine, the fastest growing healthcare segment, is another means of extending payors’ reach and increasing profitability, he adds. “Telemedicine is not just for rural health settings anymore, but is finding another subset of adopters among people who can’t fit a doctor’s visit into their busy schedule.”

Payors should expect some competition in this area. “I believe the next wave [of telehealth] will be hospitals expanding into local telehealth services as a lead-in to their local clinics,” Buchanan predicted.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in healthcare is growing, but Buchanan and Sanderson agree that adoption will be slow. On the other hand, expect more collaboration between digital players like Amazon, Google and Apple and larger health plans.

“You will see [synergies] when you can put those two players together: the company that can bring the technology to the table as well as those companies that bring the users to the table,” concluded Buchanan.

Listen to a HIN HealthSounds podcast in which David Buchanan predicts the future of mega mergers in healthcare, the impact of the CVS-Aetna alliance on brand awareness, and the real ‘bonanza’ of the $69 billion partnership, beyond bringing healthcare closer to home for many consumers.

Infographic: BUILDing Together for Healthier Communities

December 22nd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The BUILD Health Challenge (BUILD) is a national initiative working to create multi-sector, community-driven partnerships to improve healthcare. BUILD awardees apply Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, and Data-driven approaches to transform healthcare in vulnerable neighborhoods across the United States.

A new infographic profiles the first cohort of BUILD Health Challenge awardees (2015-2017), lessons learned from these programs and results.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Social Determinants of HealthInitiatives such as CMS’ Accountable Health Communities Model and other population health platforms encourage healthcare organizations to tackle the broad range of social, economic and environmental factors that shape an individual’s health. To underscore the need to address social determinants of health, Healthy People 2020 included “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” among its four overarching goals for the decade.

In one measure of their impact, 2015 research by Brigham Young University found that the social determinants of loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.

2017 Healthcare Benchmarks: Social Determinants of Health documents the efforts of more than 140 healthcare organizations to assess social, economic and environmental factors in patients and to begin to redesign care management to account for these factors.

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From Last Place, Bronx Communities Now Prize Culture of Health

December 7th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Barely eight years ago, the Bronx landed at the very bottom of the first county health rankings issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) —the least healthy of 62 New York counties, to be exact.

It didn’t help that as a borough, the Bronx topped a few other lists compiled by New York officials, including the highest prevalence of obesity and diabetes and the top consumers of sugary drinks.

Rather than discourage this diverse borough, however, these rankings galvanized residents and a number of Bronx organizations, including the Bronx Institute of Health, to partner and examine facets of community life to see where health might be improved. Under the hash tag and rallying cry of #Not62, the coalition’s reach has extended into Bronx schools, housing and even local food stores known as bodegas as it attempts to reimagine and enhance community health.

During Innovative Community-Clinical Partnerships: Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities through Community Transformation, a November 2017 webcast now available for rebroadcast, Charmaine Ruddock, project director, Bronx Health REACH, charted the path to some of the innovative community health partnerships forged by her organization.

Formed in 1999 with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bronx Health REACH (shorthand for “racial and ethnic approaches to community health”) is charged with eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes, particularly those related to diabetes and heart disease, in Bronx populations. Since its inception, Bronx Health REACH has grown from five to more than 70 community-based organizations, schools, healthcare providers, faith-based institutions, housing, social service agencies and others.

“Those founding partners were particularly concerned that Bronx Health REACH not be seen as a program per se, but as a catalyst for creating a movement around health and well-being in the community,” explained Ms. Ruddock.

From early focus groups, Bronx Health REACH determined that community members not only felt disrespected by the healthcare system, but also powerless to advocate on their own behalf for better services. Those findings helped to shape the Bronx Health REACH mission and subsequent efforts.

Outreach began at the organizational level, such as examining the way a local church provided meals at church events. The coalition brainstormed ways to prepare those meals in a healthier manner, supplementing the church’s work with nutrition training that quickly spread throughout the faith community. From there, the program applied that approach to the food offered during school meals and via vending machines, and eventually within the local food retail environment, which consists principally of bodegas.

Today, the scope of Bronx Health REACH is broad, encompassing street safety, physical activity and overall wellness, among other areas. Its early work with bodegas has grown from demonstrations and tastings of healthy foods to the formation of a Bronx bodega work group and a new Healthy Bodegas marketing initiative. It has engaged farmers’ markets in its objective of increasing healthier food options. To that end, healthcare providers now issue “prescriptions” for fruits and vegetables that are accompanied by ten-dollar coupons.

The transformation is visible in the community, Ms. Ruddock notes. Today, some previously padlocked playgrounds are open; murals by visiting artists that adorn the walls of local housing are left alone for all to enjoy.

However, a great deal of work remains. “We have given ourselves as a goal that by 2020, we will establish a multi-sector infrastructure working with housing groups, economic development groups, and others as the first step in addressing many of the health-related factors and issues,” explained Ms. Ruddock.

But for now, the enthusiasm and contributions of Bronx residents have not gone unrewarded. In 2015, just five years after receiving its disappointing health ranking, the Bronx was one of eight recipients of the RWJF’s Culture of Health prize. The prize is awarded to communities that work to ensure residents have the opportunity to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Listen to Charmaine Ruddock explain how early findings from focus groups helped to shape Bronx Health REACH initiatives.

Community Health Partnerships Can Change the Culture of Poverty: 2017 Benchmarks

November 28th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Community health partnerships address unmet needs, providing services related to transportation, housing, nutrition and behavioral health.

For residents of some locales, community health partnerships (CHP) —alliances between healthcare providers and local organizations to address unmet needs—can mean the difference between surviving and thriving, according to new CHP metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN).

“We could not survive without community partnerships. Our patients thrive because of them. They are critical to help change the culture of poverty that remains in our community,” noted a respondent to HIN’s 2017 survey on Community Health Partnerships.

Partnerships can also mean the difference between housing and homelessness. According to the survey, more than a quarter of community health partnerships (26 percent) address environmental and social determinants of health (SDOH) like housing and transportation that can have a deleterious effect on population health.

“To date, we have housed 49 families/individuals who were formally homeless or near homelessness,” added another respondent.

“Social health determinants are more important than ever to managing care,” said another. “Community health partnerships make a big impact when it comes to rounding out care.”

Motivated to improve population health, healthcare providers are joining forces with community groups such food banks, schools and faith-based organizations to bridge care gaps and deliver needed services. The majority of community health partnerships are designed to improve access to healthcare, say 70 percent of survey respondents.

Eighty-one organizations shared details on community health partnerships, which range from collaborating with a local food bank to educate food pantries on diabetes to the planting of community gardens to launching an asthma population health management program for students.

Seventy-one percent conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) to identify potential areas for local health partnerships. Priority candidates for 36 percent of these partnerships are high-risk populations, defined as those having two or more chronic medical conditions.

Overall, the survey found that 95 percent of respondents have initiated community health partnerships, with half of those remaining preparing to launch partnerships in the coming year.

Other community health partnership metrics identified by the 2017 survey include the following:

  • Local organizations such as food banks top the list of community health partners, say 79 percent.
  • The population health manager typically has primary responsibility for community health partnerships forged by 30 percent of respondents.
  • Foundations are the chief funding source for services offered through community health partnerships, say 23 percent. However, funding remains the chief barrier to community health partnerships, say 41 percent.
  • Forty-five percent have forged community health partnerships to enhance behavioral health services.
  • Two-thirds attributed increases in clinical outcomes and quality of care to community health partnerships.
  • Forty-four percent reported a drop in hospital ER visits after launching community health partnerships.

Download an executive summary of results from the 2017 Community Health Partnerships survey.