Working Across Systems to Improve Health and Well-Being By Andy McMahon

We are all aware that the health care space is changing rapidly. Political and fiscal realities are pushing policymakers to explore ways to improve care and contain costs. At the same time, the increasing recognition of social determinants of health and their impact on health care outcomes and costs is changing the Medicaid program. As a result, states are exploring efforts to improve the alignment of health care with other systems, including affordable housing, criminal justice, and human services.

As someone who worked for over two decades in the housing and criminal justice spaces, I am laser focused on how we adapt to this changing landscape and the needs of our partners and members. In addition to new approaches in our clinical models, we are re-envisioning the way we collaborate with states and community-based organizations and driving system reform to better align and integrate health care with housing and other social determinants of health.  And we are also expanding our data and analytics capabilities to better understand the complex needs of those we serve and deploying capital to support targeted impact investments that aim to improve health.

Future posts will detail the other parts of our multi-pronged approach to responding to the transformations taking place in health care. But today I want to focus on partnerships and how UnitedHealthcare is leveraging collaborations with community-based organizations to change how health care is defined and delivered. At UnitedHealthcare, we partner with organizations and providers in areas such as food access, employment, housing, and maternal and child health to help us address community needs and ensure access to programs that will help improve individual health and well-being outcomes.

One example of a current partnership is our Aligning Health & Housing Systems (AHHS) Initiative. This initiative is a multi-sector collaboration between UnitedHealthcare, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), and the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) and locally-based public housing authorities. Together, our goal is to move the national conversation around health and housing beyond the theoretical to concrete, replicable, and operational models that help states deliver on their vision of addressing social determinants of health.

Five communities—Columbus and Akron, Ohio; Houston and Austin, Texas; and Seattle/King County, Washington—  were selected by the initiative partners to facilitate the planning and development of local interventions, including an environmental scan of their community health needs. Through data analytics, each community is identifying population health trends and issues and developing health care strategies to better serve individuals who are residents of publicly-assisted housing and UnitedHealthcare health plan members. The partners are focused on strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce housing instability, address health disparities, and ensure efficient use of public resources. An important long-term goal of this partnership is the development of a roadmap for collaboration that other housing authorities and health plans can use to scale these models and strategies to improve the health outcomes of Medicaid consumers served through managed care living in publicly-assisted housing.

Partnerships across systems and with community-based organizations serve as an integral part of our effort to effectively address the needs of the communities and individuals that we serve. This partnership is just one of the ways we are working to address community needs and ensure access to programs that will help improve individual health and well-being.

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