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Getting to the root cause of illness in the community

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Americans have shorter lifespans and poorer health even though we spend twice as much on healthcare than citizens of other high-income nations.

To effectively care for Americans with complex medical conditions, it’s often best to the address social determinants of health, which are the conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

Intermountain Healthcare is one of the leading organizations in the nation studying the social determinants of health to improve the overall health of the community.

To address these environmental factors and improve health, access, and affordability in Utah, Intermountain is leading a new collaborative called the Utah Alliance for the Determinants of Health.

The Alliance started pilot programs in Washington and Weber counties in 2018. Intermountain is investing $12 million over three years—$2 million annually each in Washington and Weber counties—which will sustain the three-year pilot.

The Alliance is working with local government agencies and community-based organizations to address housing instability, utility needs, food insecurity, violence, and transportation among others which are non-medical factors that affect health. According to Mikelle Moore, senior vice president, and chief community health officer for Intermountain Healthcare.

The goal of the Alliance is to achieve healthier communities, lower healthcare costs, and be a model for positive changes that other organizations and communities across the country can duplicate.

Initially, the Alliance was designed to address the social determinants of health of SelectHealth Community Care (Medicaid) members by connecting them to community resources.

In addition, several other community members in the private sector have stepped up to help support this work. These funds will help the Alliance make gains in coordinating care and services that will reduce total spending long-term.

The Alliance is a three-year demonstration project from 2019-2021. At the conclusion in 2021, successful components will be scaled to other Utah communities.

Here are several statistics from the Alliance’s work from the end of 2019:

  • 5.6% reduction in avoidable ED visits as of May 2019
  • 140 patients successfully connected to a Community Health Work since January 2019
  • 56 Community-Based Organizations configured in the Connect Us Network- 32 in Weber and 24 in Washington
  • 19 Intermountain clinics configured in the Connect Us Network – 13 in Weber and 6 in Washington

For more information about the Alliance, please visit Alliance For Determinants of Health.

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