Food insecurity, literacy, housing, transportation. These non-medical needs, and many others, can have a significant impact on health. By addressing these factors–known as the social determinants of health–we can improve the health of individuals while diminishing troubling health disparities.
In the fall of 2015, the Washtenaw Health Initiative secured funding from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch a three-year pilot, part of Michigan’s State Innovation Model efforts, to diminish emergency department utilization while addressing the social determinants of health in Livingston and Washtenaw Counties.
As the backbone organization to the Washtenaw Health Initiative, the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) works with key health and human services agencies in the region to address the medical and social needs of frequent utilizers of emergency department services in a coordinated way.
Physician practices in the area are also addressing the social determinants of health by screening patients for social needs and offering referrals to those who are willing to accept assistance.
The Washtenaw Health Initiative, as part of its Livingston-Washtenaw County Community Health Innovation Region (SIM) work, is also driving systems change initiatives focused on reducing harm from substance use and improving the region’s homeless response system.