A pilot program improves outcomes by connecting care to housing needs

Key Takeaway: A UPMC Health Plan pilot program demonstrated the improvements to health outcomes from connecting housing resources to a care plan.

Diane Holder, UPMC Health Plan

Many health care enterprises now accept that it’s a strategic necessity to  vertically integrate care through the entire ecosystem. How have those initiatives paid off?

One of the benefits of this integration is the opportunity to pool different data silos for improved analytics: combining health records, claims data and prescription data. Insights from that analysis are proving to be a valuable tool in making forward-looking investments.

At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan, those insights have helped  guide a program to improve care and reduce costs by having an impact on the social environment.

“People who are in health care for a long term recognize that health is not just about the doctor you see and the medicines you take,” said Diane Holder, President & CEO, UPMC Health Plan, in the discussion “Payer Connect: Future Bets in the Integration Era” at Health Evolution Summit.

UPMC Health Plan worked with Medicaid on a pilot program to determine if a patient’s outcome could be improved by linking their housing to their treatment plan. The housing was paid for by HUD (Housing and Urban Development) but the community supports were paid for by the health plan to help ensure that UPMC Health Plan members would receive the care they needed.

When the housing stability was improved, outcomes for the UPMC Health Plan members showed positive improvements across the board.

“Medication adherence went up significantly, hospitalizations went down, ER visits went down and improvements in  their ability to access primary care went way up,” Holder said. She attributed the success to a team effort and the strategy that linked access to housing as a component of the patient’s treatment plan.

Holder said UPMC is planning to scale the program through Medicaid. It is working with other housing development entities that are interested in building social value.

She believes the program is a part of the broader goal of improving access to care that is often connected to making the best use of digital technologies.

Careful use of data analytics was also essential. Holder said the program started small with pilots and an outreach to find partners that were willing to contribute housing resources toward the program.

– Gus Venditto