While increasing access to health care and transforming the health care delivery system are important, there has been growing interest in the impact of social, economic, and environmental factors to health and well-being. Community health centers have long served both the clinical and non-clinical needs of their patients and collaborated with community and social support services. A natural extension of this commitment is to track their patients’ social determinants of health requirements, such as The Protocol for Responding to and Assessing Patients’ Assets, Risks, and Experiences (PRAPARE), in order to begin to inform care plans and connect patients to community and social services.

As health centers begin to offer non-health related services to address the social determinants of health (SDOH), they should also collect data on (1) what services are being offered; (2) the scope and reach of these services; and (3) which SDOH interventions hold the most promise for improving health outcomes. A new baseline analysis by Capital Link, sponsored by Blue Shield of California Foundation, provides a start to measuring health center efforts to impact the non-clinical dimensions of the SDOH.

The analysis documents SDOH interventions offered by health centers as reported to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Uniform Data System (UDS) during 2015 and 2016, the most recent data available, in California and nationwide. SDOH interventions seek to link patients with programs that provide social and economic opportunities that promote good health but are not part of the listed medical, dental, behavioral, and other health services. They are distinct from clinically-focused enabling services which facilitate access to care, and include services such as: Women, Infant and Children (WIC) programs, job training, head start programs, shelters, housing programs, child care, frail elderly support, adult day health care programs, fitness programs, and public/retail pharmacies. Prior to this review, no substantive research had been conducted on these services, although multiple studies have been undertaken on clinically-focused enabling services.

Click here for a free download of Tracking Social Determinants of Health Interventions: Health Center Reporting of Non-Health Related Services in the Uniform Data System

Over our long history of working with health centers, Capital Link has amassed a database of financial and operational information to develop field-building resources on the factors affecting health center performance, impact, and growth. For more information, visit www.caplink.org.

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