Submitted by Community Health Plan of Washington.
Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW), Washington’s local not-for-profit Medicaid (Apple Health) and Medicare managed care plan, announced a new partnership with Unite Us, a technology company focused on health outcomes, as a part of a broader community-building enterprise with Kaiser Permanente, WAServes and HealthierHere. The Unite Us platform creates a single space where CHPW can connect its members to local health, human, and social service organizations to address their broader health needs and better improve health outcomes. CHPW’s social services and care management staff can follow members’ care from healthcare providers to community agencies to ensure care is being delivered and that gaps in care between health and social needs are closed.
“At CHPW, we believe in the power of community and that working to address all aspects of a person’s health in that larger context helps to achieve the best results for our members,” said Leanne Berge, CEO of Community Health Plan of Washington/Community Health Network of Washington. “We’re proud to continuously innovate in our approach to closing the gaps in care, and especially excited to be the first Medicaid (Apple Health) managed care plan in Washington whose members will benefit from Unite Us’ seamless care coordination.”
CHPW staff works to support members’ needs around the social determinants of health as an integral part of their overall healthcare. Social determinants of health, or the conditions in which people are born, live, grow, work, and age, can drive as much as 80% of health outcomes, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. However with the unemployment rate predicted to rise in Washington State to 9.3% by year-end and possibly disproportionately affecting people in racial/ethnic minority populations, social determinants of health will be greatly impacted in these communities and worsen inequities in overall health.
The fragmented landscape of health and social services often means that people aren’t receiving the total care they need to stay healthy, safe, and well. By building a public health infrastructure to meet people’s basic needs, Unite Us allows for collaboration, care coordination, and the ability to track member outcomes.
“It’s our honor and privilege to work with an organization like CHPW, whose community-based approach pairs perfectly with our mission of improving the health of communities by connecting local social and health services,” Taylor Justice, cofounder and president at Unite Us. “COVID-19 put a magnifying glass on our lack of public health infrastructure, and the inequitable ways in which some communities lack support for care. We look forward to partnering with CHPW to help Washingtonians as they adjust to the social and economic impact of the virus now and well into the future.”
CHPW and the Unite Us partnership launched in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. There are a variety of social service organizations signed up on the Unite Us platform for this expanded geography, and growing, including: Mother Africa; Teenagers Plus; Camano Island Fire & Rescue; North Urban Human Services Alliance; Arms Around You; Global to Local; Center for Multicultural Health; Evergreen Healthcare; Homage; Southwest Youth and Family Services; Kent Youth and Family Services; Kin On; and, Open Adoption & Family Services. Later this year, Spokane and Yakima counties also will become part of the community network and ultimately, CHPW and Unite Us will be expanding with the broader goal to have one united network across the state of Washington.
“We serve some of the most vulnerable people through our re-entry program that provides referrals and resources to people coming out of correctional facilities, the homeless community, victims of domestic violence, and substance abuse. It is critical that we get them set up on the right foot, but we were struggling to connect our clients to outside services without a gap in care,” said Avon Curtis, executive director, Arms Around You. “When we connected to the Unite Us platform, it alleviated any confusion and helped us better support the goals of our clients. The platform minimizes the heavy lifting by holding both the referring agency and the organization accepting the referral accountable to follow-up with the client. Unite Us is what community -based organizations need to bridge the gap!”