Intermountain Healthcare is investing $12 million in an effort with city, county and state government agencies and community-based organizations in Utah to tackle issues related to social determinants of health (SDOH).
The Utah Alliance for the Determinants of Health aims to promote health, improve access to care and decrease healthcare costs. It’s working with SelectHealth Medicaid members and launching demonstration projects in Ogden and St. George.
The group will focus on non-medical factors that influence health, including housing instability, utility needs, food insecurity, interpersonal violence and transportation.
The Utah Alliance for the Determinants of Health chose Ogden and St. George based on their needs and opportunities to partner with other organizations and agencies. It hopes to expand to other parts of Utah after testing the program.
Funding for the three-year demonstration will include assisting people with pre-existing programs currently led by community partners. The goal is to let Intermountain and community partners “gain efficiencies in coordinating care and other services that will reduce total spending.”
The program will mirror CMS’ Accountable Health Communities model. It will screen SelectHealth members for social needs and assist in coordination. A piece of the program also includes working with community partners.
Healthcare organizations and providers are increasingly using SDOH data to find at-risk patients and help people who may lack transportation or housing. Intermountain, a nonprofit, integrated health system, said up to 60% of health outcomes are thought to be connected to SDOH.
However, healthcare companies and providers can’t tackle SDOH on their own. They need community groups to help patients after they leave doctors’ offices and hospitals.
“Population health management efforts are most successful when they are tied to efforts to address social determinants of health issues, since the challenges that patients face around housing, food and transportation, for example, are completely tied to their ability to engage in the healthcare system, manage their chronic conditions and stay well,” Amy Flaster, an assistant medical director for the Center for Population Health at Partners HealthCare in Boston, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year.
Zions Bank donated $100,000 to the project and Leavitt Partners, which advises on value-based healthcare, will offer support with SDOH. Leavitt Partners recently released a white paper finding that most physicians agree that SDOH influence health but they don’t believe addressing those issues are their responsibility.
To truly address SDOH, payers need to play a significant role, including Medicaid. They have claims data and can create reimbursement programs that can pay providers for care coordination and work with community organizations in offering safety nets for at-risk members.