By breaking out of the traditional walls of medical management, hospitals and health systems that leverage SDOH can get closer to achieving health equity, all while reducing medical expenses and improving business outcomes. By effectively evaluating data and community risk, healthcare organizations can move toward a more equitable health ecosystem and create real societal change.
At Know Your Members?: Applying Data and Analytics to Improve Health Equity, our panel of experts from major hospitals and health systems shared strategies for connecting with patients/members in new ways and reaching underserved populations.
Check out the main takeaways from the discussion:
Bending the health system to meet the patient
Barton Buxton from McLaren Health Management Group told the panel about their partnership with Walgreens. By providing transportation and more accessible care for their initial checkup, McLaren could give patients without previous access to these services an option for care while also being able to develop a relationship with them going forward.
“A lot of what we do right now is about reengineering the entire delivery plan to bring the care to the patient,” Buxton said. “No longer bending the will of the patient to the health system, but bending the health system to the patient.”
Reaching the hard-to-reach
With hard-to-reach patients, Amy Dowd and the team at CareOregon were determined to find ways to get people in the door. After getting very little response from normal postcard mailings, they switched to small monetary rewards like gift cards and saw their response rate go up by as much as 70%.
According to Dowd, getting in touch with patients is difficult, but the payoff is worth it to reach people who need care the most. “We target [the gift card mailings] for all different types of folks with chronic conditions, including preventative care. [This] has turned into one of the most successful programs we’ve had.”
Finding health data through unexpected sources
Claire Levesque from Tufts Health Plan discussed the issue of retrieving data. Though the information is there, seeing and using it for better care is the next step. Pushing for providers to share data on food insecurity and transportation can make a huge difference in better meeting patients’ needs.
“One of the things we’ve done is push our providers to give us more information. They often don’t necessarily have the raw data, but they can share the social determinants of health data,” noted Levesque.
Making mental health more available
Virtual care means more than just an easy checkup. Buxton touched on the ways McLaren is using virtual care to bring counseling, therapy and psychiatry to their patients.
“Virtual access for us is on demand, so they can get it 24 hours a day — very cost effective, and again, bringing the care to the patient,” he said. “And then creating a mechanism not only for physical health but also for mental health.”
Using COVID-19 data for good
In the aftermath of the pandemic, providers can use data from COVID-19 hotspots and vaccine distribution sites to look at other issues that might arise in underserved populations.
“We knew there were a handful of communities where COVID-19 was much more rampant,” said Levesque. “We know that those individuals are more at risk for a whole host of things.”
Curious to learn more from the discussion? Access the full event content on the event landing page.