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HAP Kicks Off Statewide Effort to Address Social Determinants of Health

April 25, 2019

Hospitals across Pennsylvania are hosting focus groups and information sessions to learn about the health needs of their communities as part of their triannual community health needs assessments. Concurrently, HAP convened a group of leaders on the front lines of initiatives aimed at addressing the economic and social conditions that impact health. HAP’s collaborative kicked off an association-wide priority to identify strategies for addressing these social determinants of health.

Approved by HAP’s Board of Directors, and led by a steering committee of association members, the effort seeks to develop measures and strategies to address at least two social determinants of health across Pennsylvania communities by the end of the year. This week’s in-person meeting of health care and community stakeholders was the first step in this work which will largely be focused on housing and food insecurity.

Participants heard from industry experts about their innovative programs that are making an impact in housing and food security, including:

  • Samuel Ross, MD, chief community health officer—Bon Secours Mercy Health
  • Monica McCurdy, PA-C, vice president of healthcare services, and Janet Stearns, vice president of real estate development and asset management—Project HOME
  • Susan Choi, PhD, CPHQ, senior director, population health—Health Care Improvement Foundation
  • Joe Arthur, executive director—Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

The group explored questions related to barriers and implementation challenges, emerging and successful programing models, identification of appropriate measures, and financing and program sustainability. During 2019, this group will continue to meet to further refine and shape strategies for the future.

HAP’s work aligns with growing state and national efforts that recognize the importance of a collaborative approach to health and wellness considerations when making decisions about things like transportation, education, and housing. 

In Pennsylvania, one of the priorities identified by the state Department of Human Services is to address social determinants of health through the Medicaid program.

Next month, as a part of HAP’s 2019 Leadership Summit, May 22–23 in Harrisburg, HAP will hold a half-day preconference workshop focused on social determinants of health, highlighting the changing role of hospitals and health systems to promote health equity. Attendees will:

  • Learn data-driven approaches
  • Dive into elements of successful implementation
  • Collaborate to create strategies that harness the power of community input with take-away tools to apply at their own organizations

Through HAP’s Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health (COACH) initiative, Philadelphia area hospitals and health systems continue to take steps to better screen patients for food insecurity and connect them to much-needed assistance. A recent HAP blog gives a comprehensive overview of the many innovative efforts under way at Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems as they seek to help patients and communities gain access to sufficient nutritious food.

Pennsylvania’s rural global budget pilot program is a multi-payor global budget initiative in which a pilot group of five hospitals are provided a fixed amount of funding for a fixed period to deliver health care in their communities. The first-of-its-kind model creates predictable and stable funding, helping hospitals focus on other priorities, such as investing in social determinants of health projects to meet community health needs.

In addition, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health (LG Health) recently received a prestigious national award recognizing the system’s work to address Lancaster County’s social determinants of health and wellness needs.

At the national level, late last year U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar previewed future value-based payment models from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) that could lead to financial support for housing and nutrition. Last year, CMMI targeted social determinants by awarding funding to 31 organizations for the Accountable Health Communities model.

For additional information about these efforts, or to become involved in population health initiatives, please contact Robert Shipp, HAP’s vice president, quality and population health.

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