KAISER PERMANENTE INSTITUTES SOCIAL DETERMINANTS PROJECT

Health delivery network Kaiser Permanente teamed up with health IT company Unite Us to launch an initiative that will link its members with services that address social needs — like access to housing and food — which influence 80% of health outcomes. For context, Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest not-for-profit health plans in the US and operates about 40 hospitals nationwide. Dubbed Thrive Local, the program will kick off this summer and be available to all of Kaiser Permanente’s 12 million members by 2022. This is Kaiser’s latest social determinants of health (SDOH) project: The network has invested hundreds of millions in fighting homelessness across the US, for example, Forbes reports.

Here’s what it means: Kaiser Permanente joins a host of payers that have laid out SDOH initiatives in 2019.

For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) launched a healthy food delivery service in February to undercut conditions like diabetes, which rack up $327 billion in annual costs in the US. And following its acquisition of payer Aetna, CVS Health Aetna announced in January that it’s investing $100 million into its Building Healthier Communities project, which heightens access to services like Meals on Wheels. Further, UnitedHealthcare is working with the American Medical Association to develop billing codes that would better equip insurers to tackle SDOH.