A partnership to serve the underserved — 4 insights from CommonSpirit Health and Get Well

Addressing long-standing health disparities, which were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a driving force behind the partnership between CommonSpirit Health and Get Well.

Get Well’s digital patient engagement technology and community navigators improve access and opportunities to direct resources to underserved populations. Individual patient data offers a foundation for community-level insights.

During a recent webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Get Well, representatives from these organizations discussed their shared goal of improving access and health equity and how technology helps to achieve this goal. Panelists were:

  • Alisahah Jackson, MD, system vice president of population health innovation and policy, Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health
  • Royal Tuthill, general manager, Docent Health, Get Well

Four insights from the conversation:

  1. Social determinants of health are the largest factor in health outcomes. Healthcare organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of social determinants of health, which include access to food and housing, air and water quality, as well as experiences with marginalization and discrimination based on race. "The biggest drivers of health outcomes are not what happens necessarily in the clinical care setting," Dr. Jackson said. Sensitivity to social determinants of health as someone's lived experience enhances empathic conversations. Individual situations change rapidly, so the frequency of collection of social determinants of health data matters. Additionally, upstream collection preserves vital time with clinicians to provide care.
  2. Engaging underserved  populations starts with establishing trust. The first step to garnering is lowering barriers to engagement by relying on  widely used technology. Get Well’s Docent Health platform uses SMS texting to reduce hurdles to effective communications. To ensure that the communication and resources are delivered with empathy and to establish a foundation of trust, Get Well "augments the technology with community-based navigators that are hired from the communities served," Mr. Tuthill said, "to make sure that they are reflecting the communities and the cultures, and engaging in those communities to build that trust and build empathy." Demonstrating the value of the in-person community support to reach at-risk populations, CommonSpirit's tracking shows engagement rates among African Americans that are similar to the patient population at large, and even higher rates in the Hispanic population. "Intentional actions have helped eliminate the disparity of engagement for this program," Dr. Jackson said.
  3. Collecting and analyzing community patient data drives other business decisions and reveals gaps. Leveraging the Get Well platform and patient data produces macro insights. Identifiable community needs can inform a health system's business decisions and growth strategy. "There's a lot of opportunity to use the data collected around social determinants of health to not only take good care of patients, but to also take better care of the community at large," Dr. Jackson said. Collecting and analyzing social determinants of health data reported by patients through Get Well’s digital engagement technology   can help identify gaps and disparities in what  providers enter into the EHR. "Data around race and ethnicity can really impact how we engage those communities, engage that individual, and connect them to resources," Mr. Tuthill said.
  4. Senior leadership plays a vital role in centering equity. Addressing health equity as more than a moral imperative requires leadership from senior management and the board. The pandemic exposed the fragility of traditional healthcare business models and accelerated trends to value-based care, which creates a financial imperative to reduce disparities.

To watch the recording of this webinar, click here.

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