At Datapalooza, Humana details how to address the social determinants of health

The annual Datapalooza conference — which is sponsored by AcademyHealth and takes place in Washington, D.C. — explores how the health care industry can harness the power of data to improve the health care experience for physicians and patients.

The conference is “the gathering place for people and organizations creating knowledge from data and pioneering innovations that drive health policy and practice.” It took place alongside the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference (NHPC).

On Monday, the first day of the conference, Angela Hagan, Associate Director, Population Health Strategy, Bold Goal, moderated a panel titled “Implementing Social Determinants of Health Screenings: Which Ones?” Caroline Fichtenberg, University of California, San Francisco; Jessa (Engelberg) Anderson, West Health Institute, ServiceNow; and Clare Tanner, Michigan Public Health Institute, served as panelists.

For the last several years, Humana has been focused on addressing social determinants of health and health-related social needs, with a strong focus on food insecurity, social isolation and loneliness as part of its Bold Goal, a population health strategy to improve the health of the communities it serves 20 percent by 2020 and beyond.

Angela began the panel discussion with an overview of how Humana is now screening more broadly for the social determinants of health. During her opening remarks, Angela detailed how Humana recently screened over 100,000 Medicare Advantage members for a comprehensive set of social needs, which enabled Humana to enhance its SDoH data ecosystem and analyze how multiple social need domains, including financial strain, housing insecurity and quality, and transportation access are influencing clinical health outcomes, clinical quality measures and health care utilization.

“Humana has a great interest in understanding the health-related social needs and SDoH that our members face,” she said. “Everyone knows those factors outside the clinical setting, outside of the few hours you spent in a doctor’s office, are the things that are really impacting your quality of life.”

Angela also spoke to the importance of the eHealth Initiative collaboration around ICD-10, along with the SIREN-led Gravity Project, and the importance of coding for the social determinants of health. After she finished her opening remarks, each of the panelists spoke to different types of screening tools being used to screen for social determinants of health and how to implement across sectors. The panelists also discussed whether there should be standardized tools for screening for the social determinants of health, or if we should continue to leverage specialized tools for different populations.

At the end of the panel discussion, Angela concluded that providers, health plans, state and local governments and nonprofit organizations are “on a journey together” when it comes to the importance of community and industry working together to successfully address the social determinants of health, citing how Humana’s Bold Goal has been successful in driving these types of partnerships across the health ecosystem.

Angela said, “We all need to be doing more screenings for the social determinants of health, and it’s not necessarily important to have one specific screening mechanism or tool, but we need to have some common mapping to be able to share data with partners across sectors.”

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