Helping Employers Address Social Needs and Social Determinants of Health

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Helping Employers Address Social Needs and Social Determinants of Health

A key issue facing our healthcare system today is the impact of the social needs, social risks, and social determinants on today’s workforce. No longer just a public health concern, issues with economic instability, housing, transportation, and access to healthcare can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of employees and their families.

To help employers address these factors, the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (National Alliance) conducted a year-long learning collaborative with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy and the National Network of Public Health Institutes.

Members of the National Alliance used various tools and resources to develop an action plan that would address one or more social determinants impacting their workforce. Using community data, employers identified potential issues and the prevalence of social needs and risk by employee zip code and then validated the results through demographic data, internal surveys and employee resource groups. The effort also engaged industry experts that provided insights around the value of public-private partnerships from organizations such as United Way, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“This project found that employers were interested in their employees’ social determinants of health,” according to Christa-Marie Singleton, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “When employers can address the pressing conditions in their communities, it not only benefits he broader population, but also ensures that they have a healthier and more productive workforce.”

“Bringing together community data with company data can help employers understand and address these factors in a meaningful, realistic way that supports a thriving and productive workplace, said National Alliance Vice President Margaret Rehayem. “The value and importance of public/private partnerships and learning together can’t be overstated.”

The National Alliance makes these recommendations for employers interested in addressing social determinants of health for their workforce:

  • Gathering data—use community data to identify potential issues and the prevalence of social needs and risk to help understand how correlating social risk factors can adversely affect specific populations and use a combination of data sources to identify population health challenges and inequities.
  • Using data to assess and prioritize—validate observations and use various data sources to engage public and private organizations to highlight the intersection of data from the community with internal statistics and prioritize actions with the broadest impact.
  • Developing and executing a work plan—consider a variety of health and well-being programs as potential interventions, work with health plans and others to develop a work plan, and partner with community resource organizations that can look at data by location and demographic groups.
  • Measuring progress—integrate health equity into an organizational approach, establish a baseline, monitor progress and measure outcomes, and conduct reviews to assess progress and identify opportunities for improvement.

To read the full report, Leading by Example and Moving Upstream Together, click here.

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