UnitedHealthcare initiative using tablets to assess SDoH in Hawaii

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UnitedHealthcare will use a new tablet-based screening program to assess social determinants of health needs for its members on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Funded by a five-year, $4.5 million federal Accountable Health Communities grant, UnitedHealthcare will have its members self-assess their needs on tablets at several clinical sites. UnitedHealthcare is further supporting the program with an additional $6.4 million investment, and patients do not need to be enrolled in a UnitedHealthcare Medicare or Medicaid managed care program to participate.

The grant was created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and will be co-sponsored by the Hawaii State Department of Human Services, to improve a patient’s healthcare experience and to help reduce healthcare costs.

“Social barriers, such as housing instability and quality, food insecurity, personal safety, and lack of transportation and affordable utilities, affect people’s ability to maintain their health and well-being,” says Katherine Keir, UnitedHealthcare Hawaii state director. “This award will enable UnitedHealthcare and our clinical partners to identify the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents and connect them to community-based organizations that can help them live healthier lives.”

The new screening program will be available to eligible Medicare and Medicaid patients of the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center; the Kalihi-Palama Health Center in Honolulu; and The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

In addition to these clinical partners, several community-based organizations are working to implement the program, including Aloha United Way, The Institute for Human Services, Catholic Charities Hawaii, Child and Family Service, Parents and Children Together, and Hawaiian Community Assets.

Under the grant, United will enlist a team of navigators to assess the results of the screenings, make referrals, coordinate services and perform ongoing followup to help address an individual’s social needs. Since last October, United’s clinical partners have offered the comprehensive screening to more than 7,700 Medicare and Medicaid recipients. United’s goal is to reach 75,000 comprehensive screenings per year, UnitedHealthcare executives say.

An advisory board of local stakeholders will oversee the program’s implementation and progress, encourage partner participation, and ensure that social services are available and aligned to meet each patient’s needs. The advisory board representatives will come from the Hawaii Governor’s Office, the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services Med-Quest Division, other Hawaii state government agencies, healthcare providers and social service organizations.

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