Our health and well-being are shaped in the very places where we are born and play. Where we work and worship. Where we live and age.
The social, economic and physical conditions of these places have a profound effect on our quality of life, whether positive or negative. Addressing disparities in these conditions—or, as they are called today, the social determinants of health (SDoH)—can improve the overall quality of life for both individuals and communities.
The concept of SDoH resonates with those of us in health and human services. By looking at a person’s needs holistically, it is powerful to think that we can have an impact not just on health outcomes, but also on life outcomes.
So why, then, do we often feel like we are making so little headway in fully helping those who rely on health and human services become self-sufficient?
Fragmented and complicated
As we’ve come to realize how much SDoH impact healthcare costs and outcomes, many government programs have been established to address disparities—programs focused on housing, nutrition, healthcare and just about every other facet of a person’s life. Private industry has also invested heavily in addressing SDoH. Lack of money and effort is definitely not the problem.
The main problem, we believe, is the built-in complexity of the programs that are intended to ease people’s lives. To access assistance, most recipients must visit multiple offices, fill out complex applications to apply for services and go through equally frustrating and disconnected processes to enroll.
Let’s suppose, for example, that a family is in need of healthcare. They must go through a set of Medicaid-related applications, as well as an eligibility determination and enrollment process. After the immediate health situation is resolved, suppose that family needs additional support with safe housing. That requires another set of applications and eligibility processes. And perhaps even later, when they need help finding stable employment, yet another set of challenges is introduced.
The problem is not that there aren’t enough programs. The problem is that the eligibility and enrollment (E&E) processes for these programs are highly fragmented and complicated.
So how do we make our programs and processes more accessible, comprehensive and streamlined for recipients so they can more easily progress on their journey to self-sufficiency? In other words, how do we go from complexity to simplicity?
Integrated and empowered
At Gainwell Technologies, we believe a first enabling step is the integration of multiple services—within agencies and even across organizational boundaries. Removing silos and fragmentation is essential to achieving a whole-person view of an individual and, in turn, paving the way for Whole Person Service (WPS).
We introduced Gainwell’s vision of WPS—a holistic view of a person’s medical, mental, behavioral and socioeconomic well-being—in a previous blog. WPS is meant to address basic needs that are necessary for one’s sense of well-being and stability. However, these needs are usually addressed by different agencies and organizations, so integrating and simplifying access to available services is essential.
Streamlining access can be accomplished today through the use of modern technology. Agencies have already made significant investments in their existing eligibility systems, so it is important that any WPS solution integrates seamlessly. The ultimate goal, after all, is to simplify the experience for employees, partner agencies and, most importantly, recipients.
By designing WPS to be modular in nature, we can provide the right components that work with existing solutions and investments, and ensure they integrate with existing E&E systems. We can then unlock the power of integrated data to put the whole person at the center of everything we do.
Enrolled and engaged
The idea of WPS is to help recipients engage with the programs and services that are available to help them overcome the barriers of SDoH, and to easily follow one simplified process to get the care they need. In this regard, a well-thought-out technology solution can have a tremendous impact by making it much easier for recipients to access programs and stay engaged in their health and wellbeing.
When you think about it, the solution is … really not that complex.
View our webinar. Interested in learning more? Check out “Whole Person Care: An Integrated Approach to Self-Sufficiency” featuring Jung Kim, PhD, director of product development, and Dr. Gary Call, MD, chief medical officer for Gainwell Technologies.