As more and more data points to the significance of social determinants on both population and individual health, the power of community is coming to the forefront as fuel for stronger health plan member engagement. Increasing healthcare engagement leads not only to better health outcomes, but in the long run it can positively impact Medicare Star Ratings.

When we look at how healthcare organizations are addressing a stronger focus on community, we’re struck by the growing commitment to social responsibility of many plans and providers in the industry today. It seems there is a cross-section between health plan member engagement and industry citizenship that has created a “win win” for both individuals and healthcare organizations. It only made sense to us to point out four examples of this increasing blend of engagement and social purpose.

1. BCBS Institute Gives a “Lyft” to Non-ER Appointments

In May of 2018 the BCBS Institute, a new subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of America, was created to directly address social determinants of health and impact health plan member engagement. Coining the term “zip code effect,” the BCBS Institute is focusing on ways to improve healthcare access in specific neighborhoods. This includes studying issues like lack of transportation, nutrition and fitness “deserts”, and fewer pharmacy options and how it impacts health engagement and health outcomes.

BCBS Institute Gives a Lyft

So far, the BCBS Institute has announced partnerships with CVS Health, Walgreens and Lyft to help address these problems. In the case of Lyft, BCBS will be providing free ride-share services in selected neighborhoods. The goal is to reduce the number of missed appointments for non-emergency medical care in neighborhoods that don’t have strong transportation alternatives.

Currently, millions of Americans cannot get to healthcare appointments because they lack reliable transportation. This is the first of many initiatives the BCBS Institute is undertaking to help achieve better health outcomes for everyone and stronger health plan member engagement.

2. Centene is Fighting Back Against Bullying

With a mission to provide insurance solutions for populations that are under-insured or lack insurance altogether, it’s not surprising that Centene is demonstrating a commitment to social programs. The organization also provides specialty services that focus on whole health, which should be a priority for youngsters as well as adults.

Research has shown that kids who are bullied can experience negative physical and mental health issues. Most bullying occurs in middle school, and yet the impacts can last well into adulthood for many individuals. Centene’s subsidiary, Cenpatico, provides behavioral health services in 12 states and has partnered with the Children’s National Health System via a new anti-bullying campaign called the “No Bullying Zone.”

The program works with community schools to provide education for students, teachers, and parents on ways to prevent, identify, and intervene when bullying happens. So far, Cenpatico and its partners have received national recognition for the program.

Bullying has direct impacts on mental health, one of the more challenging areas in which to improve health plan member engagement. Statistics surrounding engagement within mental health programs are also a direct contributor to Medicare Star Ratings, making this community effort an excellent example of one that improves children’s lives as it works to address whole health for individuals during their entire lifetime.

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3. EmblemHealth is Connecting Caregivers, Plans, and the Community

EmblemHealth is a local, neighborhood health plan that has served the New York City area and surrounding communities for more than 75 years. It only make sense the organization would come up with an idea to merge health and community into a new concept of healthcare “Hubs.”

Each Hub, part of a partnership with CityBlock, a personalized health system for Medicaid and Medicare members, is a place for health plan members to engage with local caregivers and other community-based organizations to provide better access to care. The goal is to provide healthcare that addresses all aspects of an individual’s wellbeing and factor in social determinants of health based on each neighborhood location.

EmblemHealth Connecting Caregivers, Plans, Community

The program will focus first on those individuals within the neighborhood who are not able to access non-emergency care or mental health services. The first Hub has been announced in Brooklyn at EmblemHealth’s Crown Heights location, and plans are to create Hubs across the state of New York. Clearly, this is another example of bringing healthcare into the community for lasting impacts on health outcomes.

4. North Memorial Reaches Out to Treat Every Stage of Life (and Health)

Our last example is one that is close to home to us here at Icario. North Memorial provides hospital, urgent care, and primary care services in Minnesota’s Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The North Memorial Health Foundation is committed to supporting better access to healthcare through technology and training. The Foundation’s list of community involvement programs is endless, and yet it’s clear they are focusing on the entire spectrum of health, from wellness to the end of life.

North Memorial Reaches Out to Treat

Some examples of the North Memorial’s preventive initiatives includes its Heart and Stroke Care program, one that provides ongoing support to customers and family members including screenings, education, and of course diagnosis and treatment of heart and stroke-related conditions. Evidence-based training for nurses is another program that helps these professional caregivers provide the highest quality care without detriment to their own wellbeing.

From free on-campus housing through the North Lodge Guest House, to providing complementary hospice services that may not be reimbursed by insurance, North Memorial is an example to providers around the country of a strong community partner.