Independence Blue Cross and Signify Health are leveraging their existing partnership to launch CommunityLink, a community-based organizational network that targets the social determinants of health in the Philadelphia area.
The program aims to break the barriers between social and clinical care by helping people gain access to non-medical health services such as food, housing, transportation and more, the companies said.
CommunityLink connects the registered nurses from Independence, the social welfare coordinators from Signify Health and the local CBOs to coordinate the members. From 2021, healthcare providers can use the platform to refer patients to non-medical services in their community.
The CommunityLink network can also monitor a person’s movement in different care settings to keep people informed as they interact with several different social and clinical providers.
To date, the CommunityLink network includes Project HOME, the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, Penn Asian Senior Services, the Philadelphia Food Trust, the Disabled Legal Clinic, Well Spouse, and Greater Philadelphia YMCA. Independence and Signify Health plans to create more organization over the course of the program.
WHY THAT IS
This program builds on previous work by Independence and Signify Health, in which the organizations send clinicians to the homes of Independence Medicare Advantage members to assess their overall health, facilitate chronic disease management and provide diagnostic support.
Outside clinical parameters known as social determinants of health can make up as much as 80% of a person’s health outcomes, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This could include access to healthy food, clean and safe housing, reliable transportation and comprehensive education.
It is becoming increasingly common for health organizations to develop programs that target these social and economic components of health, not only because it benefits the person, but also because it benefits the organization as well.
In fact, investing in the social determinants of health has been found to have a positive return on investment and result in fewer hospital readmissions and, therefore, cost savings, according to an article published by the American Journal of Managed Care.
THE BIGGER TREND
Health professionals have long understood the importance of addressing the social determinants of health. However, that meaning has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic.
Not long after the public health crisis began in the United States, studies showed that minorities, and black people in particular, were disproportionately affected by the virus. An analysis found that blacks were almost four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than whites.
Hospitals, health systems and health officials have called for change, saying systemic racism is also a public health crisis.
Organizations have begun to take action, many through monetary donations. One example is UnitedHealthcare, which donated $ 12.3 million to organizations in 21 states in June as part of its commitment to Empowering Health. Anthem also donated $ 24 million to nonprofits across the country focused on food insecurity, mental health, and housing and economic recovery.
ON THE RECORDING
“To create a fairer health system, we need to recognize that health is not just in the doctor’s office but also in our members’ homes and communities. We are excited to be working with Signify Health to develop CommunityLink,” said Daniel Hilferty. the President and CEO of the Independence Blue Cross. “We will be able to identify obstacles our members may face and provide solutions that are available to them right where they live in this new network.”
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