CVS will be integrating social-care-coordination platform Unite Us into its opioid-focused program "Guardian Angel," which was launched by Aetna in 2018.
The duo will roll out this combined effort first in North Carolina, where case managers will be able to use the Unite Us platform to organize with social services, including housing, food and financial support. By the end of 2020, case managers using the system will also have access to North Carolina's network of healthcare and human-services platform NCCARE360.
"We recognize that whether a person is successfully able to fight addiction is not solely determined by the medical treatment that they receive. Through the Unite Us network of social care providers, people can more easily access support within their community and have a better chance of recovery."
The pair plans to expand this service to other districts as well. The two will also be launching the program in New Orleans and Tampa Bay, Florida, specifically to serve Aetna's Medicaid and dual-eligible members.
WHY IT MATTERS
Within the last decade, drug overdoses have quickly become a public health epidemic. In 2017, the CDC reported in 2017 that more than 70,000 people died from a drug overdose. The National Institutes for Health report that, on average, 128 people in the United States died every day from overdosing on opioids in 2018.
THE LARGER TREND
In the past few years, the medical world has had a renewed focus on social determinants of health. According to the CDC, social determinants of health include everything from food security to housing status and income to access to health services. These factors can impact an individual’s health risks and outcomes.
We've seen plenty of initiatives addressing social determinants, including Solera and Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute teaming up on an initiative to link patients to community resources.
The digital health industry has also seen a rise in resources for individuals with substance-abuse disorder. In response to the growing number of opioid overdoses, the federal government expanded access to telemedicine and tightened down on e-prescribing for opioids.
ON THE RECORD
"Improving health starts at the community level, and most of that work needs to take place outside of a doctor's office," Dr. Garth Graham, vice president of community health and impact at CVS Health, said in a statement. "Our collaboration with Unite Us allows us to support some of the most vulnerable members of the community, providing them with the local resources that they need to improve their everyday lives."