Priority Health’s new social determinants initiative to leverage data, partnerships

Priority Health has launched a new data-driven social determinants of health initiative in collaboration with Socially Determined, ConsejoSano and Aunt Bertha.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based health insurer plans to employ a “full lifecycle approach” to addressing social determinants of health, said Praveen Thadani, president of Priority Health, in an email. This means the insurer will identify social risk among its members, engage them and connect them with the resources they need.

“We know that social determinants of health do not exist in a vacuum, and there are multiple factors that can contribute to someone’s whole health,” he said. “While it is one thing to understand that a social factor is impacting someone’s health, we wanted to go a step further and create a program that would also directly address a member’s needs.”

To better understand social risk, Priority Health partnered with Socially Determined, a company that leverages data to quantify social determinants of health.

Together they will stratify total population risk and identify the social factors negatively affecting members’ health.

“Most social determinants of health initiatives consist of [a] one-time screening, claims data and a patchwork of social programs,” said Dr. Trenor Williams, co-founder and CEO of Socially Determined, in an email. “All these programs on their own — or even together — are admirable for the effort, but they still leave huge holes to fill if the goal is to drive significant change at scale.”

So Priority Health aims to work with Socially Determined to implement comprehensive programs tailored to individuals in need. They will also conduct impact evaluations to measure program outcomes and refine them as needed, he said.

“If you can’t measure, it’s very difficult to know if you’re improving or even how to improve, so it’s a key element of long-term successes,” Williams added.

The next steps of the initiative involve Priority Health working with ConsejoSano to establish member engagement strategies and with Aunt Bertha to connect individuals to community services and resources.

ConsejoSano is an engagement solution that provides outreach to underserved communities in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. The company will work with new Priority Health members to perform social determinants of health screenings and make direct referrals to the payer’s internal care management team. The payer will launch new Medicaid member outreach activities with ConsejoSano later this summer, Priority Health’s Thadani said.

In addition, Priority Health will encourage members to utilize Priority Health Connect, an online platform powered by Aunt Bertha that will allow members to search for the services that they need within their zip code, including housing support, legal assistance and childcare.

Priority Health will begin using social determinants risk data for Medicaid members by mid-summer and will offer them the Aunt Bertha platform to connect to community services, Thadani said.

“Success to us is providing more personalized support for each member and meeting their unique needs when they need it most,” he said.

Priority Health is the latest payer to launch efforts to address social determinants of health. In the past two months, insurance giants UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association created initiatives of their own.

Photo: syahrir maulana, Getty Images

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