Over the past decade, national policy initiatives have catalyzed initiatives to test new integrated health and social care models—including screening patients for social risk in primary care clinics; building new cross-sector partnerships; financing social care with healthcare dollars; and sharing data across sectors. Early experiences demonstrate the need for validated measures of social risk, engagement at all levels of organizational leadership and frontline staff, and greater flexibility from national policymakers to align incentives across sectors.
While governments bear the biggest responsibility for integrating health and social care, other stakeholders—including payers and providers—can contribute to a more efficient and effective system that reduces the need for invasive and costly procedures, fosters healthier populations, and addresses long-term social and economic inequities. Achieving these goals will require innovation, collaboration, and collective impact. This article discusses approaches to achieving these objectives, including innovative ways that governments, private organizations, and foundations can invest in community-based solutions to social risk. It also recommends that payors, including state Medicaid programs and accountable care organizations, explore options for funding community-based social care through shared-risk contracts that incentivize investments by allowing returns to be distributed across the entire system rather than accruing solely to the investing entity. health and social care