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Report: 65 Percent of Social Determinant Partnerships Report Cost Savings

July 6, 2017
by David Raths
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Efforts Tend to Focus on Hospital Readmissions, ED Usage

Partnerships formed to address both the clinical and the social determinants of health tend to provide services to impact immediate-term clinical goals, such as reduced hospital admissions, length of stays, and/or emergency room usage, and 65 percent of partnerships report having realized cost savings.

Those are a few of the findings in a new report, Working Together Toward Better Health Outcomes, that explores the many ways that healthcare organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs) that provide human services are partnering in shared pursuit of better health outcomes.

The Partnership for Healthy Outcomes, a project of Nonprofit Finance Fund, the Center for Health Care Strategies, and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, studied more than 200 healthcare-related partnerships serving all 50 states.

A better understanding of the impact of social determinants of health has led healthcare organizations and CBOs that provide human services to explore partnerships to improve health outcomes and lower costs by addressing medical as well as social, environmental, and behavioral needs, the report notes. Evidence suggests that population health improvement will rely on continued and enhanced collaboration between the healthcare and human services sectors.

The report drills down into how the CBOs and healthcare providers share data. For some CBOs, partnership has required implementing an electronic health record system or learning new insurance billing codes, the report found, while for some healthcare organizations, it has required building the cultural competence to serve a new population.

Most commonly, partners share patient-level data as part of service delivery — for instance, sharing real-time data through electronic systems linking patient health records with case management information, it says. Partners also share data with each other on an aggregate level to regularly observe and assess progress toward agreed-upon goals.

Like funding models, data and outcomes emerged as an area of continued evolution for partnerships, the report says. Nearly one-third of respondents have developed goals for the next five years related to outcomes, data sharing, and evaluation. Nearly 20 percent cited challenges related to data collection or data sharing as inhibiting the effectiveness of the partnership. “With an increasing focus on outcomes-based approaches, and as priorities of the national healthcare landscape shift from volume to value, demonstrating results will continue to be essential for partnerships, with data existing as an ever-critical tool to understanding and articulating these results,” the report says.


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