Social Determinants of Health: the physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, and behavioral conditions that affect a person’s overall health.
Together with our health and social service partners, United Way of Salt Lake is working to address critical healthcare challenges in our community. UWSL’s programmatic focus on collective impact partnerships is essential in closing the loop to create a system that supports whole person care, placing human relationships and needs of individuals and families at the forefront.
It takes the efforts of all types of organizations to truly understand the complexities and impact that social determinants of health can have on the people of Utah.
Social determinants of health are the physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, and behavioral factors that affect a person’s overall health. They can be influenced by personal, social, economic, and environmental situations, and reach far beyond healthcare itself into sectors like education, transportation, and housing. These factors are often outside an individual’s control, so addressing social determinants of health is critical for improving the health of vulnerable populations and eliminating health disparities.
To improve these important health factors, Utah’s largest hospital and healthcare system, centers, and IT leaders have joined forces with United Way of Salt Lake and Utah 211 and their community-based partnerships to build a “closed loop” approach to information and referral. This approach provides referrals to services and resources that address client needs, then allows for follow-up to ensure the needed help was received.
Designed to bring together various partners providing health and services associated with social determinants of health for those in Utah, Utah 211 is staffed by United Way of Salt Lake, United Way of Northern Utah, and United Way of Utah County Utah 211 has a statewide reach and is the only comprehensive information and referral service in the state. These factors provide a unique opportunity to identify and address social determinants of health.
Why United Way of Salt Lake Cares About Social Determinants of Health
United Way of Salt Lake is an organization dedicated to making lasting social change in pursuit of an inclusive community where all people can achieve their potential and get the assistance they need. With a goal of focusing on the whole person, UWSL is committed to identifying and addressing social determinants of health, including the physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, and behavioral needs that residents in the state have. Because the vast majority of 211 calls relate to one or more areas that comprise social determinants of health, 211 is in a unique position to serve as the key for an integrated, statewide approach to whole person care.
Through Utah 211, all residents of Utah can be connected to available services such as health clinics, food pantries, and affordable housing to provide a whole person care approach. Those efforts will be “grounded” in and targeted to communities with extensive and complex needs.
Bringing Sectors Together to Address Every Utahn’s Whole Health
Through this collaborative partnership, Utah 211 is working to develop a system that would ideally make use of all relevant and accessible information about a client’s life circumstances and history of interactions with healthcare providers and social services. This will enable providers to efficiently target interventions with a focus on whole person care.
Right now, because different organizations collect patient/client data with different formats, different coding schemes, and different data platforms, it’s difficult to link relevant, usable information about a specific patient/client across organizations over time, making a whole person care approach difficult to achieve. We define such linkages as interoperability.
The lack of interoperability limits statewide efforts to reduce disparities and increase community health accessibility, allowing everyone in the community to achieve optimum health.
United Way of Salt Lake is a leader of collective impact partnerships that will ensure all Utahns have equitable systems in place to thrive.
For more information about Utah 211, visit 211utah.org. To become a partner and learn more about how you can get involved with 211’s social determinants of health team, contact Caitlin Schneider at email@example.com.
By Caitlin Schneider, Director of Partnerships at 211 Utah