In the News: Apr 9–16

Despite Difficulties, Partnerships Could Transform Health Care

The HealthAffairs overview article in its April edition provides a landscape of the integration between health and human services to generate sustained health and equity improvements. Motivated by increased evidence regarding social determinants of health and value-based health care incentives, integration of health and human services has the potential to improve patient outcomes, reduce inequities and reduce health care costs.

However, evidence regarding the efficacy and sustainability of these multisector partnerships remains mixed. The efforts seek collaboration and integration among public health, health care and human services, but studies have increasingly suggested that developing new programs and workflows within just one organization is difficult. Collaboration across organizations and different sectors proves to be an even larger challenge due to vastly different organizational structures, staffing models, priorities, funding sources and more. For example, a human services organization may not have the workforce and systems necessary to track and document health outcomes.

Despite the mixed evidence of such partnerships, these collaborations have the potential to transform health care and human services positively once best practices become more well-established. For specific examples and lessons learned that drive success in projects that address social determinants and their clinical manifestations, please watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Community Health Improvement.

Social Workers Play Critical Role in Primary Care Teams

A recent Modern Healthcare article highlights clinical research findings that indicate increasing the presence of social workers in primary care clinics can lower hospitalizations and ED visits for high-risk patients. The study, conducted by staff at Brown University and the Providence (RI) Veterans Affairs Medical Center, analyzed primary care visits for roughly 400,000 veterans at 93 care sites in 18 states over a 3-year period.

Findings showed the rate of therapeutic encounters increased and inpatient hospitalizations and ED visits declined when social workers were provided in underrepresented areas—hospitalization rates declined by 4.4% while ED visits declined by 3%. Specifically, Veterans’ Health Administration social workers deployed a practice model that emphasized addressing socioeconomic factors that could negatively influence health outcomes.

As clinicians are increasingly asked to treat patients with complex social needs, social workers will be asked to take on larger roles to support positive clinical outcomes. In the future we will see primary care teams adopt an interdisciplinary approach reliant on clinicians of diverse backgrounds. To learn more about how organizations are redefining their primary care teams and deploying analytics to identify and segment at-risk individuals, please see the Sg2 case study OSF HealthCare: Clinical Segments Inform Consumer Playbook.

Hospitals Will Lend Unused Ventilators to Treat COVID-19

President Trump has announced the “Dynamic Ventilator Reserve” initiative to help get 60,000 unused ventilators to areas that need them to treat patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 has affected approximately 600,000 Americans and caused 25,000 deaths in the US. Parts of the country have seen very large numbers of cases, such as in New York State, while others have not experienced the same burden on their medical systems. The idea of the new program is to help get unused ventilators from some less affected areas to those areas that are harder hit with COVID-19 patients. The initiative is supported by FEMA and HHS, with the participation of health care executives from multiple organizations, including the Cleveland Clinic, the American Hospital Association, Sg2 member HCA Healthcare and Sg2’s parent company Vizient.

Sg2’s COVID-19 Surge Demand Calculator is a scenario planning tool that calculates market-specific, age-adjusted projections of non-ICU bed, ICU and ventilator demand, based on varying transmission rates observed internationally as initial disease spread, mitigation and containment strategies play out. Sg2 Edge members can access the calculator—along with our accompanying COVID-19 resource kit containing regularly updated materials—here, and nonmembers can access it, and related resources, here.

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