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Alliance Health has begun development of a comprehensive social drivers of health (SDOH) strategy to inform a data-driven approach to where and how we invest our resources to best meet the needs of our members and communities.
Social drivers of health are factors such as stable and affordable housing, healthy food, reliable income and interpersonal safety, which can have a substantial effect on health outcomes. Despite their powerful impact on health and well-being, addressing SDOH in the most efficient and beneficial ways can be challenging because of gaps in data, insufficient capacity or funding and the need to work across different agencies and organizations.
The inception of Alliance’s SDOH strategy began in late 2020, when we participated in an analysis by Spring Street Exchange of how a national cohort of Medicaid health plans were addressing different facets of SDOH. One of the recommendations Alliance received from the study report was to create a SDOH strategy, which can increase the impact of investment in SDOH by prioritizing resources, creating synergies, and providing clarity for additional needs such as data, partners, and resources.
Using the report as a basis, Alliance formed a steering committee and contracted with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to help with the strategy formulation. Alliance enterprise analytics staff are developing MicroStrategy reports that include geo-mapping of social vulnerability data across census tracks to help pinpoint areas of greatest need in our communities. We have also hosted our first roundtable of community-based organizations to gather input about who they serve and how they serve them.
Senior Vice President—Community Health and Well-Being Ann Oshel said there are many questions the strategy may help answer. “How do we make sure that everybody who comes through our doors needing help gets screened for social drivers? Do we have the capacity in our community programs to meet their needs? Are there investments that we could make around food insecurity, interpersonal violence and access to housing that would increase somebody’s ability to get help when they needed it?”
“Our hope is that we could really become an innovator in this field and learn how to maximize the potential of funding, making investments and building capacity, and then use better tracking and data to form strategies and make sure that our people are getting needed services and supports,” she said.
One of the next steps will a be a survey to learn more about the capacity of community organizations and the challenges they face.
Oshel said that future goals include using the strategy to address complex health outcomes related to social needs, such as making sure people who have nutritional considerations can access the right types of foods through their community-based organizations.