Nearly a decade has passed since Healthy People 2020positioned social determinants of health (SDoH) at the forefront of healthcare reform. As defined by the report, SDoH are the “conditions in the environment 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.” Examples of social determinants include:
Resources to meet daily needs (e.g., safe housing and local food markets)
Educational, economic, and job opportunities
Community-based resources in support of community living and opportunities for recreational and leisure-time activities
The ability to influence
social determinants largely falls outside of the health care system’s reach.
Therefore, a key to address opportunities for health involves collaboration between
health care and different industries such as education, housing, and
transportation. Both the public and private sectors have made significant
efforts to bridge the gap between physical, mental, and social care by
experimenting with non-traditional partnerships.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has spearheaded multiple programs with government agencies and community partners to achieve the goals outlined in Healthy People 2020. One of the most notable successes is the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, an initiative by the CDC with the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Through housing rehabilitation, enforcement of housing and health codes, and partnerships with healthcare experts, the program helped Healthy People 2020 exceed their target of reducing blood lead level in children.
Other programs such as the “National Program to Eliminate Diabetes Related Disparities in Vulnerable Populations,” leveraged community partners and resources to increase food security, health literacy, and physical spaces for active living. In one of their projects, the program partnered with community health workers (promotoras) who spoke Spanish to engage with Hispanic/Latino communities where participation to Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) was low. The community health workers provided linguistically and culturally-sensitive materials that effectively increased participation in DSME among the targeted population. The outcomes from such initiatives have inspired more health and community organizations to work together to reduce health disparities.
Innovation, in collaboration with Springboard Enterprises, is hosting an
exciting new 10-week Scale Up Accelerator program for women-founded health tech
companies (or those with at least one female key
executive) located in the Southeastern US (FL, GA,
AL, MS, LA, NC, SC, KY, TN). Because both women-led startups and the
South East are lagging in access and closure of venture capital, this unique
cohort is dedicated to accelerating the growth and financing of companies
within these demographics.
The program will run from Jun 26th – Aug 30th and
includes a kickoff boot camp (June 26th – 28th) at the
GuideWell Innovation Center in Orlando, FL. Most of the program will be conducted virtually other than the 3-day kickoff boot
camp and a innovator/investor matchmaking showcase at the end of August. During
weeks 2-9, the cohort companies will be matched with various advisors and are
expected to connect with advisors every week. In addition, each week will
incorporate a virtual 2-hour workshop/collaboration session led by subject
matter experts on key challenge topics faced by most early-stage health tech
criteria for the cohort:
Company must be a health, wellness
or medical device technology company that addresses critical gaps in providing
affordable, accessible health care or holistic health/wellness solutions for
diverse populations and communities in the United States
Life sciences companies are NOT
eligible for this cohort
Women founders or key executives
must own a minimum of 25% of the company’s equity
The company must be headquartered
and have a minimum of 50% of its staff located in the Southeastern US (FL, GA,
AL, MS, LA, NC, SC, TN, KY)
Can show proof of “Scale Up”
traction through revenues, capital raised, customer acquisition, and product
development (see below)
Addressing a huge market
opportunity in the U.S. healthcare, holistic health or wellness industry
In an AARP survey of 2000 adults, 6 out of 10 respondents indicated they prefer to stay in their home and community for as long as possible. This desire increases with age; more than 75% of adults over 50 would rather remain in a familiar environment where they have strong connections to friends, neighbors, and businesses. However, for the elderly and people with chronic illness or disabilities, remaining at home can be difficult. These populations require services that are often provided at long term care facilities (e.g. nursing homes) and/or formal medical settings– which can be costly, inconvenient, and inefficient.
Individuals of all ages across the health spectrum have also expressed interest in receiving health services in the home or community as a means to access higher quality and convenient care. With consumer demand for patient-centered care, the U.S. healthcare system has steadily steered away from institutional services in favor of home and community-based services (HCBS). Since 2013, Medicaid expenditures for HCBS has continued to exceed spending for institutional services. HCBS now accounts for 55% of Medicaid Long Term Care spending.
As the largest payor for healthcare in the United States, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is often the first to experiment and adopt new care delivery models. With Medicaid’s perceived benefits with HCBS, the CMS has also changed what is covered under Medicare Advantage (MA) to accommodate for the transition towards home and community based care. In 2018, CMS added “non-medical in-home care” as a supplemental benefit for 2019 MA plans. This year, CMS continued to broaden the range of supplemental benefits for MA 2020 to cover any benefits “that have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of beneficiaries with chronic conditions or illnesses.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has partnered with Catalyst @ Health 2.0 to launch two innovation challenges on Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) and Home & Community Based Care. As a national leader in building a culture of health, RWJF is inspiring and identifying novel digital solutions to tackle health through an unconventional lens.
Health starts with where we live. As noted in Healthy People 2020 social determinants
of health are, “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.” For example, children who
live in an unsafe area cannot play outside making it more difficult for them to
have adequate exercise. Differences in SDoH heavily influences communities’
well-being and results in very different opportunities for people to be
Despite our knowledge on SDoH, the current healthcare system utilizes care models that often fail to take into account the social and economic landscape of communities– neglecting factors such as housing, education, food security, income, community resources, transportation and discrimination. Little progress has been made on incorporating SDoH into established health care frameworks. Healthcare providers and patients alike either have limited understanding of SDoH or have limited opportunities to utilize SDoH knowledge. RWJF established the “Social Determinants of Health Innovation Challenge” to find novel digital solutions that can help providers and/or patients connect to health services related to SDoH.
Home and community-based care is also important to enable Americans to live the healthiest lives possible. In-patient and long-term institutional care can be uncomfortable, costly, and inefficient. Digital health solutions in the home and community offer opportunities for care that better suit the patient and their loved ones. For example, innovations such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) have created new care models that allow the providers, caregivers, and patients to manage care where a person is most comfortable. RPM serves as a reminder that technologies in the home and community offer alternatives methods to engage the patient, increase access to care, and receive ongoing care. Therefore, RWJF is launching the “Home & Community-Based Care Challenge,” to encourage developers to create solutions that support the advancement of at-home or community-based health care.