By Kurt Waltenbaugh, CEO, Carrot Health.
Typical attempts at defining, quantifying, and measuring social determinants of health (SDoH) are limited to geographic or population averages, which often mask individuals’ discrete and unique experiences. They can, therefore, lead organizations to implement costly and inefficient programs instead of addressing individuals’ actual barriers that represent the greatest potential for improving health outcomes and return on investment.
Recognizing this, the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) sought to gain a better understanding of the unique fingerprint of risk within its members’ patient populations—knowledge that would lead to more effective strategies for its members to address emergency department (ED) super-utilization and readmission rates with interventions that would produce the greatest return on investment.
The group partnered with Carrot Health to perform a statewide analysis on the relationship between ED utilization and readmissions and SDoH. Coupling claims data from CHA’s On Demand Hospital Information Network (ODHIN) and consumer behavior data from the Carrot MarketView platform enabled production of an industry-first analysis of healthcare utilization across Colorado.
SDoH and Readmission
The analysis provided deeper insights into the patterns and relationships observed through patient data, social risks, and ED utilization and readmissions. The latter – readmission – is a core utilization metric that has been identified by Colorado’s Medicaid payer as a key metric impacting hospital reimbursement under Colorado’s value-based Hospital Transformation Program (HTP). As a result, improvements in readmission and optimization of quality programs around it are paramount to CHA’s member hospitals.
Readmission is also an area where SDoH can have a significant impact, particularly within the Medicaid population where social determinants are often exacerbated. For this reason, the CHA determined that identification tools would play an important role in helping to quantify risk and identify opportunities for strategic program design, community outreach, and interventions by allowing for the visualization and highlighting of the relationship between readmissions and SDoH.
This would, in turn, allow CHA to determine the appropriate guidance for member hospitals seeking improvement in their quality efforts. To that end, CHA and Carrot Health constructed an interactive dashboard to help hospitals understand their specific patient population by identifying those who had been readmitted within 30 days and which SDoH were contributing to overall risk for readmitted patients.
The dashboard allows CHA to identify areas of increased social risk for by comparing patients who were readmitted against those who were not. It also allows member hospitals and health systems to examine patient populations by ZIP Code, payer, race/ethnicity and SDoH risk groups and draw insights within each population.