CVS Health is set to build healthier communities in Ohio
US pharmaceutical giant CVS Health has announced its aim to improve the health and wellness of local communities in Ohio. Over $150,000 in grants will work to support Ohio non-profits mitigate prescription drug abuse and expand access to quality, convenient and affordable care across the state.
Focusing on critical health care needs and target underserved populations in Ohio, the grants will work to support a number of organisations.
A Family Practice in Cleveland has received a $50,000 grant to support the training and implementation of motivational interviewing for primary care providers, nurses and behavioural health clinicians to use as a coaching method for patients dealing with substance abuse. The new support will be used to conduct motivational interviewing training and to ensure appropriate use of this method across the health centre.
Additionally, a $50,000 grant will be used by Rocking Horse Children's Health Center in Springfield to develop the SAFE (Substance Abuse and Family Education) programme, which will identify and provide support and psychological education to individuals, children and families at the community health centre and surrounding areas impacted by the opioid crisis and other drug related issues.
"We are committed to making meaningful investments in the communities we serve to support our colleagues and customers," said Eileen Howard Boone, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, CVS Health.
"The organisations we are partnering with are helping us deliver on our purpose of helping people on their path to better health and are truly dedicated to helping those who need it the most."
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Additionally, the company will be providing a total of $50,000 to four clinics which form part of the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics. The grant will work to support the clinics' ability to have medication available to their patients in medically underserved areas of the community. The clinics are Viola Startzman Clinic in Wooster, Open M Medical Clinic in Akron, St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in Cincinnati and Beacon Charitable Pharmacy in Canton.
"This effort, along with others, is a priority locally and in the state legislature," added State Senator Bob Hackett. "We must continue to work hard to combat the opioid crisis facing our state and provide resources in our communities that will help people on the road to recovery get their lives back."
In addition, CVS Health is supporting the Well Being Collaborative of Northeast Ohio's annual Wellness Conference, where CVS pharmacists will talk about the importance of safe medication disposal and the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
Through its employee volunteer program, CVS Health colleagues logged more than 3,000 volunteer hours last year in Ohio in support of local community causes throughout the state.
The company’s $69bn merger with health insurance juggernaut Aetna will aim to further revolutionise patient care as the industry continues to gain the interest of technology leaders.
How health plans can reduce healthcare inequalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has put inequalities accessing the healthcare system in the spotlight. Jim Clement, Vice President of Product & Services at cloud provider Inovalon, tells us that health plans play the most integral role in advancing the health equity movement.
Why did it a global pandemic to highlight the issue of healthcare inequities?
Health inequity in the US has been well understood by healthcare professionals for many years, but it has become more evident due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until the racial and ethnic differential seen in response to COVID-19 related infections, deaths and vaccinations that many Americans became acutely aware of the health inequity due to sociodemographic factors such as race, geography, education and income.
Fortunately, there’s now a growing health equity movement afoot in America which aims to improve public health and achieve equity in health status for all people by ensuring opportunities are available to attain the highest level of health. While the entire healthcare ecosystem is important to this transformation, it is health plans that arguably play the most integral role.
How can health plans help?
Achieving health equity means obstacles to health must be removed, including poverty, discrimination, powerlessness, and lack of access to the basics like physicians, hospitals, medicine, technology, and health education. This is not only a social justice initiative, but also a clear call to action for health plan organisations that are bearing the economic brunt of the costs due to health disparities.
Health plan organisations that recognise the alignment between efforts to improve health equity and broader member engagement initiatives will be in the best position to move the needle. Plans must also understand that the provision of medical services within hospital walls, physician offices and other health services providers is necessary, but not sufficient.
By recognising that health inequity also includes non-medical factors such as employment, income, housing, transportation, childcare, and more, plans will be better equipped to ensure their members are set up for success.
What do healthcare providers need to do generally to address inequities?
Outreach by both health plans and providers is critical to ensuring people have knowledge of available services, the reason those services are critical to their health, and options to access those services based on their unique circumstances. With both stakeholders beating the same drum, progress can be made quickly.
Given the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH), should healthcare providers take a more active role in addressing these, or other agencies?
While communicating with patients is critically important, what is truly required to address inequalities is helping patients take medical actions – like regular PCP visits, monitoring A1C and accepting health coaching – that are necessary to maximise their health, along with non-medical actions –like availing themselves of community resources that address homelessness, food insecurity and employment services.
The most progressive providers and payers have or are putting in place programs to address these non-medical issues. In addition, non-medical tools such as transportation services can certainly help drive the effectiveness of medical services.
How important is it to educate patients about their health and how can this be done?
Education is a social determinant of health and a key lever to be used to drive health equity. Patients who do not understand their medical conditions or the consequences of non-compliance with their treatment plans are prone to poor outcomes.
For health plans, understanding member needs is one of the biggest drivers of quality care. A continuous cycle of engagement through feedback and appropriate responses will provide health plans with an opportunity to uncover, discuss, and resolve problems faster.
Improving member outreach and engagement can be made easier with a programmatic approach involving four stages of intentional outreach: Getting to know your members, educating members, seeking feedback from members and gaining member loyalty. Each stage not only contributes to a better member experience but also to improved outcomes and higher satisfaction scores.
Now that the issue has come to the fore, what do you think things will look like in 5 years or so?
I predict that health plans that get member engagement, education and equity right will achieve better health and greater value, faster. Those who get it wrong or delay will suffer the consequences of competitive disadvantage and pay a larger share of the rising costs associated with health inequity.