The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), the Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA), and the Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF) have launched a Kresge Foundation-funded project to measure and capture health centers’ patient risks in terms of both clinical and non-clinical factors, such as the social determinants of health–the social, environmental, and economic factors that influence an individual’s health.
An $800,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation will support the three-year project to create, implement, and promote a standardized health risk assessment protocol that goes beyond medical acuity to account for the social determinants of health.
This project comes at a critical time, as payments become increasingly based on measures of health quality rather than the volume of services provided. However, current quality measures do not account for the fact that much of the differences in health are related to the social determinants of health – poverty, jobs, education, housing, availability of healthy food, neighborhood safety, geographic isolation, and social exclusion.
As a result, quality measures and payment systems do not reflect the extra time and resources needed to help these patients become and stay healthy, putting health centers at a significant disadvantage. Collecting data on patient risk, especially the social determinants of health that health center patients often confront in their environment and living situations, will be crucial to level the playing field for health centers when payment is based on performance rather than volume.
The protocol developed from this project will be critical to helping health centers better understand and manage their patient populations with needed services and community partnerships, identify which factors are driving higher health care costs and poorer health outcomes, and create more appropriate risk adjustments when operating under value- or performance-based payment systems.
In the first year, the partners will review and assess the nature and use of existing patient risk assessment tools and protocols to inform the development a national standardized health risk assessment protocol. If your health center or health organization currently uses a patient risk assessment tool and you would be willing to share it with us, please contact Michelle Jester at email@example.com or 202-331-4609. If you would like to be kept informed about the progression of this project, please contact Michelle Jester.