Boston, MA – Amidst an ongoing conversation on Beacon Hill about the rising costs of health care, Ascentria Care Alliance hosted a roundtable discussion Thursday with over 50 attendees on Beacon Hill, focused on efforts to leverage social determinants of health to drive meaningful change in health outcomes and lower healthcare costs. Speakers included Angela Bovill, president and CEO of Ascentria (host); Nima Krodel, vice president of Nonprofit Finance Fund; and Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.
It is estimated that 80% of health outcomes are driven by factors that take place outside of the healthcare delivery system. The discussion focused on how collaboration efforts between government and community organizations can lead to a better understanding of often overlooked factors influencing overall health in a community. Panelists highlighted data that suggest that addressing social determinants of health other than healthcare – including factors such as education, employment, income and family support – will result in better economic outcomes and lower overall healthcare costs.
Susan Dreyfus of Alliance for Strong Families and Communities stressed the importance of robust data collection and analysis of social determinants of health, health spending, and health outcomes for creating smart policy. While most analysis is done regarding the supply side – health care providers – data concerning social determinants of health is equally, if not more important. Understanding the root causes of negative health outcomes can lead to better targeted healthcare spending in the future.
Angela Bovill, CEO of Ascentria, described the challenges she and her organization face at the “community organization” level. Both Ms. Bovill and Nima Krodel of the Nonprofit Finance Fund also described frustrations with the siloed nature of the current structure of agencies and service delivery that prevents a holistic approach to health. Ms. Bovill highlighted the need for novel approaches to healthcare as we move forward that address an individual’s entire ecosystem and environment – allowing organizations and agencies to more fully address an individual’s and family’s barriers to overall health and economic success.
Cross collaboration between healthcare, human services, communities and the government is key to building a better culture of health for all. “We need to wrap services around the individual to provide holistic care, rather than shove people into siloed programs each aimed to attack one distinct problem,” Ms. Bovill said on Thursday. The panel discussion was followed by an open conversation about investing in the value of human services up front to achieve lower costs long term.
As one of the largest human service organizations in New England, Ascentria empowers people of all backgrounds to rise together and reach beyond life’s challenges. To learn more about Ascentria and our work, please visit us here.