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3 ways employers can address social determinants of health

Learn how to identify and reduce the social determinants of health and other environmental factors impacting your employees’ health.

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When assessing overall employee health, you might consider the quality of medical, dental and vision benefits, or the amount allotted on your company’s annual wellness stipend. But what about social determinants of health? These are economic and social conditions that can influence both individual and group differences in health status—which can include housing and income, and also access to fundamental resources like clean air, quality food, and reliable transportation.

At Collective Health, we believe addressing the social determinants of health in your employee population can help  improve long term health outcomes. Below, we’ve outlined ways employers can address social determinants of health within their own employee populations:

  1. Understand the social determinants impacting your employee population.

The first step is to understand which social and environmental factors might affect employees at home and in their communities.

Resource: Use the free resource created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation here to help gain clarity around social determinants of health by neighborhood. The site provides annually-updated, zip code-specific data on everything from smoking and obesity rates to income inequality and housing challenges. Another way to help assess social determinants at the individual level is with the PRAPARE survey.

How Collective Health can help: If you’re working with Collective Health and choose to use our Care Navigation services, we can identify factors impacting our members’ health. Our Care Navigation team can then work to help coordinate referrals to community-based service providers.

  1. Provide access to support through community resources and more holistic health benefits.

Once you understand the factors that might impact your employees, it’s important to make sure they have access to community resources, like housing assistance and food pantries, as well as health benefits that meet their needs, like mental health support, childcare, and eldercare benefits.

Resource: You and your employees can quickly access local community resources through the link here.

How Collective Health can help: Personalized Recommendations with Collective Health, is a feature that can send notifications to members based on their eligibility for different services. For example, if one of our members is taking insulin for diabetes, our Personalized Recommendations can determine if there are care gaps the diabetic member may have, and send reminders for things like making an appointment for an eye exam. These care gaps are also addressed when our care team speaks with members to help them address any  barriers that may prohibit them from getting care. We recently published a peer-reviewed research study which revealed that people with hypoglycemia (a condition common in people with diabetes) who have commercial insurance plans often get low blood sugars during the last week of the month, when their incomes are lowest. Additionally, our Care Navigation pharmacists can help members with insulin education, taking into account individual risks and benefits that members can discuss with their providers.

  1. Prevent fear of stigma by ensuring confidentiality.

When offering your employees access to community resources and holistic health benefits, you’ll want to make sure you’re respecting them and their privacy by protecting their information. Some employees may not want their employers to know that they’re struggling to afford transportation or food, or that they’re not picking up their medicines to instead pay for other critical expenses like housing or childcare. You can ensure your employees’ information is confidential by using a HIPAA-protected, PHI-secure network that allows people to access support privately.

How Collective Health can help: At Collective Health, privacy and security are core to what we do. Our commitment to privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers and our members, and we design our products and services, and conduct our member outreach, with this in mind. Learn more about our approach to security and privacy


Interested in learning more about social determinants of health? Check out our blog post The Breakdown: Understanding how geographic differences—and social determinants—impact health outcomes

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