While health agencies may differ on the finer points of what exactly constitutes a “social determinant of health,” there is consensus among U.S. healthcare leaders regarding the need to improve the health of the populations they serve to ensure optimal outcomes and lower the overall cost of care. The urgency of this need has crystalized amid the spread of COVID-19, which has taken a harsher toll on America’s most-vulnerable populations.
Hospital and health system leaders looking to improve the health of the communities they serve and safeguard their organization’s fiscal health should consider launching a sophisticated care management strategy.
Older adults and individuals of any age with underlying health issues (such as diabetes and asthma) are at greater risk of experiencing severe illness related to COVID-19. Additionally, emerging data from several states suggests the novel coronavirus may be disproportionately sickening black Americans, who are at greater risk of developing certain chronic health conditions and more frequently have limited access to healthcare services. In Illinois, for example, black Americans make up 15 percent of the population but, as of April 6, accounted for 29 percent of the state’s confirmed cases and 41 percent of the state’s COVID-19-related deaths, according to STAT.
The novel coronavirus is exacerbating many of the health disparities and demographic changes that have helped to fuel the nation’s healthcare cost crisis. America’s rising rates of chronic illness and aging population contribute to disproportionate levels of healthcare spending. Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, hospital and health system leaders well understood the need to drive down the overall cost of care and improve the health of populations. To improve care for patients and help their organizations navigate the fallout created by the current crisis, hospital and health system leaders can leverage sophisticated care management tactics and tools to help engage patients, improve outcomes and lower costs.
Becker’s recently spoke with two care management experts — Mary Bacaj, PhD, Head of Value-Based Care with healthcare services provider Conifer Health Solutions; and Bridget McKenzie, MSN, RN, Conifer’s former chief nursing officer and vice president of medical management — about the value care management can bring to both providers and patients.
During the conversation, three essential components of effective care management emerged: