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Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Date: 05/27/22

Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) continue to be a growing focus in health care. SDoH are conditions in the environments in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that can influence a member’s health and well-being, including access to health care and basic services, such as transportation, housing, food and medications. Superior works to enhance quality of life for members by striving to address health disparities and SDoH factors that can affect members’ health, daily functions and quality of life outcomes.

One key SDoH focus is social isolation, which is the absence of social connection and a disconnection from others. According to the American Psychological Association, the negative effect that social isolation can have on a person is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol use disorder. With these types of comparisons, the impact of social isolation can also lead to pre-mature mortality. While older adults appear most at risk for social isolation, many other demographic factors can increase the risk of social isolation. This can include individuals with disabilities limiting their mobility, transportation or opportunities/resources to engage with other individuals.

In response to social isolation, Superior’s goal is to build social connectedness. There are varieties of ways to work towards this goal. One of the first steps is to have the member take an inventory of the relationships they have in their life, the role these relationships play and the depth of the relationship. As relationships and potential gaps are identified, the member can work towards filling these gaps. It is also helpful to identify if technology can be utilized to help bridge these gaps. This may be done through calls, text or other online resources to serve as virtual support groups.

Additional resources to assist Superior members with SDoH, include but are not limited to:

  • Community and Member Support – Superior has taken steps to help address SDoH factors and improve our members’ well-being. Find details about grants and sponsorships by viewing the How Superior is Removing Barriers to Care flyer.
  • MyStrength.com – This evidence-based digital resource offers members an integrated, guided experience to help manage and overcome comorbidity challenges by creating an individualized experience through interactive programs, in-the-moment coping tools, inspirational resources and community support. To learn more, visit Superior’s MyStrength webpage.
  • Superior Community Aids and Resources (CARES), also known as findhelp  is a free and easy-to-use online tool that helps providers and members quickly search for free or reduced-cost services like medical care, food and job training. This tool can be accessed on Superior’s Member Resources webpage, or by visiting findhelp.
  • 2-1-1 Texas – This is a free, anonymous social service hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This program, provided by Texas Health and Human Services (HHS), is committed to helping Texas residents connect with the services they need. Providers and members can access services by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-877-541-7905 or online at www.211texas.org.
  • Community Health Workers (CHW) – Superior CHW staff helps members successfully navigate the health-care system by establishing ongoing outpatient services with primary care providers, addressing all access to care, social barriers and following up with high-risk members after hospital discharge for a time period of up to 90 Days depending on member’s condition and complexity of care needs. This leads to better health outcomes and reduction in potentially preventable ER visits, inpatient admissions and readmissions. 
  • Pyx– This is a social isolation focused app that connects with individuals through a chat bot. Superior utilizes this app to reach out to members who demonstrate a heighted risk score for social isolation. The program provides connectedness and an additional avenue to connect members back to a variety of resources.
  • Section 811 Housing– Superior has partnered with the Texas Departments of Housing and Community Affairs Section 811 to assist qualifying members that are homeless, or marginally homeless, to secure permanent housing. Section 811 can assist with paying 70% of member’s rent as well as helping the member secure a residence pre-move in. It also notifies Superior if a member has additional needs that arise so that member can be supported by a care manager for successful linkage with additional support.
  • Superior Hygiene Closets– Good hygiene is critical for avoiding illness and spending less on health care, it also helps prevent children from missing school, resulting in better learning outcomes. To assist members, Superior has partnered with organizations across Texas to open hygiene closets for the community. There are specific Superior Days where Superior will attend to answer questions along with other community resources to provide direct resources for those in need. To find hygiene closets in your area, please utilize the search tool on findhelp.
  • Superior Sponsorships and Grants Program–Superior offers grants of up to $5,000 to participating Superior providers and community organizations focused on promoting the health and well-being of the communities we serve. Superior also sponsors, hosts and attends many events that support those in need. This includes health fairs, baby showers and back-to-school events. To find out more about Superior’s Sponsorships and Grants Program, please visit How Superior Is Supporting Texas Communities.

If a member needs assistance accessing these resources, please direct them to contact Superior Member Services at the number on the back of their member ID card. To learn more about SDoH, please visit the Centers of Disease Control’s webpage: Social Determinants of Health: Know What Affects Health.