CVS Health is rolling out a network to provide its most vulnerable patients with access to local support for their social care needs.
The retail healthcare giant announced on Wednesday it will collaborate with social care coordinator platform provider Unite Us to launch a platform that will allow Medicaid and dual-eligible beneficiaries covered through its insurance arm Aetna to more easily find and access help from social care providers within their communities.
"I think social determinants of health is something that we, as enterprise, have been working on for some time across various lines of business," said Dr. Garth Graham, vice president of community health and impact at CVS Health and president of the Aetna Foundation.
Graham said the programs and services will initially be made available to Aetna Medicaid members in Louisville, Ky., and to the health plan's dual-eligible special needs members in Tampa, Fla., and southeastern Louisiana beginning later this year.
The program's effectiveness will be evaluated next year by how well it connects members to services and addresses the help they need. The goal is to scale the service nationwide.
Graham said eligible members can be referred by a community healthcare provider or Aetna nurse case managers who will receive information through the platform. He said the network also will likely be folded into CVS Health retail sites.
The network is part of the company's five-year, $100 million Building Healthier Communities initiative announced in January.
Graham said Aetna later this month also plans to release an analytics tool that helps employers quantify the impact of social determinants on their employee's health. CVS Health will use the tool to identify the most effective interventions.
The company also will invest more than $50 million in affordable housing in some underserved and at-risk markets throughout the country.
Over the past seven months, the company has invested more than $40 million to construct or renovate over 1,600 affordable housing units in six states.
The importance of addressing socio-economic factors such as food insecurity, housing instability, unemployment and a lack of transportation has been getting greater attention from healthcare providers in recent years as a way to reduce costs and improve health.
Studies have estimated social factors account for as much as 80% toward health outcomes.
In May, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente launched a three-year initiative that involves the creation of its own social care network; when fully deployed, the network will allow the health system's 12 million members nationally to connect to community supports for their social needs.