Providers and payers have begun to use already established measurement tools to address the social and behavioral concerns of their communities.
Louisville, Ky.-based Humana uses Healthy Days, a measure created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The measure asks respondents four questions that assess physical, emotional and mental health.
"We settled on Healthy Days because it's a comprehensive measure of quality of life. In just a couple of questions you can get to know how (members) perceive their health," said Dr. Andrew Renda, director of Humana's Bold Gold program, the insurer's effort to improve the health of the communities it serves by 20% by 2020.
To get the information, Humana surveys its members through phone calls. Nearly 1 million members are called each year, and about 200,000 respond. The data are then paired with claims data so the insurer can get a comprehensive look at the members' unique needs.
The survey responses have guided the work of Humana's recent pilot projects. For example, the insurer is currently soliciting participants for a food insecurity program in Florida. It has partnered with local physicians and Feeding America, a network of food banks.
"A lot of our work ends up being a three-way partnership with a physician, and a partner like Feeding America," Renda said.
Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, took a similar approach as Humana. At some of its clinics and among its health plan members, the system has begun to use the PRAPARE tool, an assessment used by community health centers to assess patients' social risks.
The tool asks patients to share their race, income, housing stability and other aspects of well-being such as concerns over safety and stress.
From the results so far, Intermountain has identified areas where it can help patients fill in health gaps. For example, the system has seen many patients admit that transportation to healthcare services is a challenge.
"We were working on lots of initiatives" to address those needs, said Mikelle Moore, Intermountain's senior vice president of community health.