Catalyst Initiative Brings Increased Focus on Health Equity

Collaboration with community partners is vital to addressing community needs, improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities. Our new UnitedHealthcare CatalystTM  initiative is a distinctive community partnership model that partners with the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), public housing agencies, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and local community-based organizations to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequities.

The needs of communities are as diverse as the people who live within them. As we know, research shows that 80% of an individual’s health is determined by what happens outside of a doctor’s office. There are local, underlying conditions and dynamics that exist in every community that create complex health challenges and barriers for individuals and communities, including lack of safe and affordable housing, healthy food and financial stability. We are cultivating and convening formal partnerships with health care, public housing agencies and community partners to align and expand community capacity and improve health outcomes in targeted areas.

This work differs from other programs that support health equity, as it:

  • Creates and strengthens local cross-sector partnerships
  • Blends clinical data with input and insights from community members
  • Aims to improve health outcomes for all Medicaid beneficiaries and their communities — it is “plan agnostic”

Initiative follows a five-step framework

We believe community collaboration will help us create interventions with the highest level of impact. The Catalyst initiative brings together community stakeholders to identify a catalyst focus area by blending clinical data with firsthand information from community members. From there, partners collaboratively assess the need, set a goal and develop a plan to accomplish it. Throughout these efforts, teams will measure outcomes and share learnings.

At a high level, the initiative follows a five-step process:

  1. Learn: Listen to community members and develop relationships
  2. Assess: Understand community needs and analyze data
  3. Plan: Develop interventions with communities
  4. Act: Implement the plan and measure outcomes
  5. Refine: Update interventions and add partners, as needed

Rooted in existing partnerships

The Catalyst initiative began to take root after we launched our partnership with the CLPHA. This effort was focused on improving health outcomes for Medicaid members living in publicly assisted housing across five targeted communities. In partnership with local housing authorities, we identified community challenges and priorities and established data-sharing agreements that matched housing authority data with our claims data. Using these data dashboards, we identified shared members and residents and the most prevalent conditions they managed. With this information in hand, we pinpointed key health challenges and collaboratively worked to develop strategies to address them.

Expanding the initiative

We are continuing the work in these same five communities, while expanding the Catalyst initiative to at least 18 additional communities. We are seeking to address key challenges in the community, including mental health, diabetes, food insecurity and maternal health.

Throughout 2021, we will develop and strengthen partnerships, identify additional focus areas and develop interventions to improve community health. We will also measure both process and community health outcomes to refine and expand the initiative. As we look ahead, we are energized and grateful for the community partnerships we have developed, and the ones to come in the future. We are firmly committed to expanding our partnerships, all with the aim of improving health outcomes for the community and reducing health disparities in underserved communities.

Read more from Andy McMahon and Eleanor Beaber

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