Health plans and social determinants of health (SDH) haven’t traditionally been mentioned in the same conversation—there has been a “hard line” between what is health care and what is social services. For most of my career, “what are health plans doing to address social needs” simply wasn’t a meaningful question.
Those times have changed as payers and health plans realized the impact of social factors on health care costs. There is now a wide array of health plan-financed programs to address SDH. And we have covered this shift extensively in the last few years—Do You Have A SDH Screening Tool?, Health Plans & Social Services—The Current Craze Or Permanent Shift, and Social Determinant ROI—The Early Returns.
With this in mind, I’m excited about the upcoming 2019 OPEN MINDS Management Best Practices Institute keynote, Mind, Body, Community: Kaiser Permanente’s Unique Approach, to be delivered on August 13 by Bechara Choucair, M.D., Senior Vice President & Chief Community Health Officer, Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente, reporting $79.7 billion in operating revenue in 2018 and serving 12.3 million members, is an innovator in addressing social determinants of health and the individual and community-based needs. In the last year, we’ve covered two big moves from Kaiser Permanente.
The first was their investment of $200 million in housing projects with the goal of supporting more housing projects in the future (see The Future Of Housing Support)—this includes a $5.2 million investment in a 41-unit affordable housing complex in East Oakland, California (see Kaiser Permanente Invests In Affordable Housing Complex In Oakland, California For $5.2 Million As Part Of Initiative To Improve Community Health By Addressing Housing Insecurity). The purchase is through the Housing for Health Fund and is part of Kaiser Permanente’s initiatives intended to improve health outcomes by creating stable housing for vulnerable populations.
Also on the housing front, Kaiser Permanente announced a partnership with Community Solutions to help accelerate efforts to end chronic homelessness in 15 communities by providing $3 million over a three-year period to Community Solutions’ Built for Zero initiative. This initiative “uses real-time data to help local leaders better understand the dynamics of homelessness in their communities” (see New Partnership Aims To End Chronic Homelessness In 15 Communities).
Kaiser Permanente also unveiled plans for a partnership with social coordination platform Unite Us as part of their comprehensive social health network—Thrive Local (see Kaiser Permanente Launches Social Services Provider Network). The goal of this new network is “to connect health care and social services providers to address the pressing social needs including housing, food, safety, utilities and more for millions of people across the United States” (see Kaiser Permanente Launches Social Health Network To Address Social Needs On A Broad Scale). The network will track community partner referrals and service outcomes to measure if consumer needs are being met, and within three years is expected to be available in all Kaiser Permanente regions.
My takeaway—while Kaiser Permanente is an integrated system (meaning it is an all-in-one health plan and provider), it marks a larger trend of value-based care and/or integrated models taking a step to combine forces and address social determinants to improve health outcomes.
Health care specialty provider organizations working with other health plans need to understand that they might not “yet” have an option to develop a social services oriented contract with their health plans, but that doesn’t mean they should not be working on identifying how they might deliver those services, and how they might approach health plans with a solution if and when it’s an option (see Health Plan Business Development For The Entrepreneurial Provider Organization-Step-By-Step and Social Services ROI Essential To Social Determinants Wave).
The focus, as with most things in the health and human services orbit these days, is to focus on capturing value and proving the return-on-investment (ROI) you can provide both for yourself and for the health plans you are working with. Otherwise a SDH-future will roll into town, and only the competition will be ready to provide the services and reap the benefits.
For more information to get your team thinking about new programming integrating social services, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Circle Library:
- The Social Services Market: Over $331 Billion In Spending In FY2016
- Addressing Social Determinants-The Measurement Challenge
- Social Determinants Today, Social Determinants Tomorrow
- Social Determinants Of Health & Medical Homes
- Addressing The Social Determinants Of Health With Income Assistance
- Medicare’s Path To Incorporating Social Determinants Into Value-Based Payment
- Humana Foundation Dedicating $7 Million To Address Social Determinants Of Health
- Social Determinants Of Equity & Social Determinants Of Health
- Screening Humana Medicare Advantage Members For Social Determinants Of Health Reduced ‘Unhealthy Days’ By 2.7%
- Solera Health Raises $42 Million To Address Chronic Disease, Social Determinants Of Health And Addiction
For more on how Kaiser Permanente is addressing conditions for health and equity, look out for our coverage from The 2019 OPEN MINDS Management Best Practices Institute when we will cover Dr. Choucair’s opening keynote—Mind, Body, Community: Kaiser Permanente’s Unique Approach.