The federally funded effort, called Accountable Health Communities, is testing whether systematically screening for, identifying and addressing the health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries will reduce health care costs and use of the healthcare system.
"If you have people who have these social service needs -- lack of food or housing, or if you can't keep the lights on -- you can't really focus on healthcare outcomes," said Helen Forbes Fields, United Way vice president of community impact and general counsel. "If we address these things, hopefully we'll see a correlation with reduced healthcare costs."
"A significant amount of a person's health is influenced by what happens outside the healthcare setting," said Dr. Brian Donley, Cleveland Clinic chief of staff. "That's why this is so important."
The service will be available to Medicare and Medicaid recipients who are residents of Cleveland, East Cleveland and Warrensville Heights, which have high poverty levels. Partner hospitals and clinics include:
Over the next year, the partners will prepare for a May 2018 launch, said Diane Gatto, United Way's 2-1-1 director. Twelve 2-1-1 help center specialists will be dedicated to the program, with eight deployed to the clinic sites to meet with and screen high-risk patients face to face.