Equality Health Pioneers Social Determinants Program to Tackle Health Disparities

Published: September 8, 2020

PHOENIX, Ariz., September 9, 2020 — Equality Health, a whole-health delivery system, has pioneered a comprehensive cultural care program that enables providers to identify and address social determinants of health. Through the launch of its proprietary Social and Cultural Risk Assessment (SCRA), which is now deployed in more than 1,400 primary care practices, Equality Health is fundamentally changing care delivery to achieve greater health equity for marginalized and underserved communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and recently-heightened focus on racial justice has underscored health disparities, particularly within Black and Latino populations,” said Anabell Castro Thompson, MSN, APRN, ANP-C, FAAN, FAANP, Senior Vice President of Health Equity at Equality Health. “Social determinants of health, such as food insecurity and lack of access to stable housing, are often the root cause of these disparities, and we are working to close that gap through SCRA.”

Administrative burden and a lack of incentive structure are two considerable barriers for providers who are looking to transition to a “whole-person” care delivery model. With Equality Health’s SCRA program, social determinants act as any other quality metric, with a far less burdensome reporting process.

From the outset, providers participating in the SCRA program are:

  • Trained on workflow changes and cultural competence;
  • Educated on appropriate coding for social determinants;
  • Rewarded with quarterly incentives; and
  • Equipped with the necessary tools, such as questionnaires and technology.

“We have been using SCRA for more than two years, and it has significantly helped us improve the health and quality of life for our patients, many of whom are underserved,” said Nabor Rios, M., MS, PA-C, Associate Medical Director at Happy Kids Pediatrics. “We’re able to assess patients’ social and cultural needs and connect them to the appropriate resources without putting undue burden on our providers. This straightforward process and workflow has operationalized cultural care in our practice and enabled us to play a larger role in our patients’ outcomes.”

This standardized approach not only makes value-based care more feasible for providers to implement, but it enhances parity among physical and behavioral healthcare including social support. With more than 3,000 assessments completed monthly, SCRA helps predict future emergency room costs using an academically validated approach while also mapping to existing ICD-10 codes to reduce administrative burdens. Further, SCRA serves as a signal to patients that their healthcare provider is interested in improving their whole-health, which fosters patient trust and strengthens the physician-patient relationship.

“SCRA augments the medical oriented risk assessment process for clinicians and results in meaningful, actionable patient-sourced information that helps improve quality of care and outcomes,” said Dr. Mark Stephan, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer at Equality Health. “The doctor-patient relationship has long been recognized as a key element to improving health outcomes, and we are striving to provide practices with the tools and support to bridge the gap between social and health needs.”

Please visit Equality Health’s Cultural Care page for more information.

About Equality Health

Equality Health, LLC is a Phoenix-based whole-health delivery system focused on transforming value-based care delivery with population specific programs that improve access, quality, and member trust. Through an integrated technology and services platform, culturally competent provider network and personalized care model, Equality Health helps managed care plans and health systems improve outcomes for diverse populations while simultaneously making the transition to risk-based accountability. For more information about Equality Health, visit www.equalityhealth.com or follow @EqualityHealth on Facebook, @EqualityHealth on Twitter, and @EqualityHealth on LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Terri Pollock
Amendola Communications (for Equality Health)