Collaborations Advancing Industry Response to the Social Determinants

A sampling of reports, data, and programs with more on the horizon.

Several important developments were announced this past week in the ever-changing world of the social determinants of health (SDoH).

Alliance for Better Health and MVP Healthcare Collaboration

First came the exciting collaboration between The Alliance for Better Health (a health reform organization) and the Schenectady, N.Y.-based MVP Healthcare. The newly formed Healthy Alliance Independent Practice Association is focused on the SDoH, intended to link social care organizations to behavioral health providers, medical providers, and managed care organizations through technology platforms geared to also support value-based care. The Alliance plans to distribute $800,000 to promote the linkage of area residents to organizations focused on prevailing social service needs, including:

  • Caregiving
  • Domestic violence resources
  • Emergency housing
  • Employment
  • Food
  • Pharmacies
  • Transportation

Approximately 30 different social service providers around the region will have access to Unite Us, a new technology platform allowing real-time views of when recipients actually receive the recommended services. Delays and gaps in care have been the norm for way too many clients and communities, creating a mandate to address both, as well as the SDoH and associated poor health outcomes that can result from them. This new collaboration will enhance and streamline what have presented as fragmented and inconsistent referrals among the medical community and social service providers in the region. Outcomes will also be tracked to provide a comprehensive review of how the new system plays out.

The 2019 County Health Rankings Report

For those ravenous for more data on the SDoH, the 2019 County Health Rankings Report has been released. For those unfamiliar, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The annual County Health Rankings measure key health factors for just about every county across the United States, focusing on a wide scope of issues, including high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, quality of air and water, income inequality, and teen births. The annual Rankings provide a clear snapshot of how health is influenced by where people live, learn, work, and play.

This year’s report emphasized the challenges of housing sufficiency and affordable housing on health outcomes. The report speaks to how experts suggest that housing costs should not exceed 30 percent of monthly household income. At over 30 percent, the resultant strain is known as housing cost burden, meaning the higher the housing costs, the greater the likelihood of homelessness. Highlights of the 2019 report included:

  • More than 1 in 10 households spend over 50 percent of their income on housing costs: this is what’s known as a severe housing cost burden.
  • The severe housing cost burden is highest in large urban metropolitan counties and lowest in rural counties.
  • Since the real estate crisis and simultaneous economic downturn of 2006-2010, severe housing cost burden has increased in over half of all rural counties, though it has decreased in urban areas. Housing insufficiency is one of many issues that plague rural communities, making those populations among the fastest-growing new faces of the SDoH.

People experiencing severe housing cost burden face numerous issues associated with SDoH:

  • 15 percent deal with food insecurity
  • 22 percent have children (under the age of 18) in poverty
  • 19 percent self-rated themselves as having poor health

The report is a worthwhile read for those seeking further data to validate and potentially develop new initiatives to meet the needs of their target populations. More reports, data, and programs are on the horizon, with every day yielding new and exciting initiatives.

Programming Note:

Listen to Ellen Fink-Samnick’s “State of the Social Determinants,” during Monitor Monday live on Mondays, 10-10:30 a.m. EST.


Ellen Fink-Samnick, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, CCM, CRP

Ellen Fink-Samnick is an award-winning healthcare industry expert. She is the esteemed author of books, articles, white papers, and knowledge products. A subject matter expert on the Social Determinants of Health, her latest books, The Essential Guide to Interprofessional Ethics for Healthcare Case Management and Social Determinants of Health: Case Management’s Next Frontier (with foreword by Dr. Ronald Hirsch), are published through HCPro. She is a panelist on Monitor Mondays, frequent contributor to Talk Ten Tuesdays, and member of the RACmonitor Editorial Board.

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