Medicaid patients enrolled in Northwell's Health Home care coordination platform will be matched with community organizations able to address their non-medical needs.

Northwell Health, NowPow team up to tackle social determinants of health

By Dave Muoio
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New York’s Northwell Health has partnered with Chicago-based NowPow to offer the latter’s software platform to patients grappling with environmental and social detriments to their health.

NowPow’s technology uses the diagnostic codes in patients’ health records to spot unmet non-medical needs, such as access to healthy food. From there, the platform’s algorithms match and recommend these patients to relevant community organizations. These groups are vetted prior to their inclusion in the platform’s directory, and considered for each patient in terms of their geographic location, languages and service eligibility.

To start, the platform will be enabled for the roughly 1,200 Medicaid patients enrolled in the system’s Health Home care coordination program for those with behavioral health considerations, as well as to the program’s community partners. Staff at Northwell and these partners will be able to share and track referrals through the platform.

WHY IT MATTERS

According to the CDC, social determinants of health include everything from food security to housing status, and income to access to health services.

“We know that medical care alone is not enough to make people healthy,” Nancy Copperman, VP of community health at Northwell Health, said in a statement. “Total health also requires healthy food, a safe place to live and the ability to get to the care you need. By talking to our patients about these issues and integrating NowPow into the care we provide, we can connect people to the tools and resources they need to create truly healthy lives.”

These factors not only drive health risks and poor outcomes for those with the least access to care, but often stand as a major source of preventable costs for health systems and payers.

“This kind of data will allow us to fine-tune the efforts we make for our patients, so that we’re supporting them more effectively,” Dr. Ram Raju, SVP and community health investment officer at Northwell Health, said in a statement. “It will also help us target our community health investment dollars more strategically, by allowing us to develop a better understanding of the most pressing issues that are dragging down health outcomes in our neighborhoods.” 

WHAT’S THE TREND

NowPow is just one health tech company targeting socio-economic health disparities and access to services. Cityblock, a spinout of Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, recently raised $65 million for its own tech-driven approach care coordination. Meanwhile, disease management platform Solera Health teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute in March for a new program linking members with community-based providers and other resources addressing their personal needs.