HealthierHere is dedicated to helping all people in King County improve their health and well-being. To achieve that goal, we need to understand the needs of the people we aim to serve, and how health and social services in King County are meeting those needs. To that end, we’re pleased to share the results of our 2017 Regional Health Needs Inventory Report.
What’s a regional health needs inventory?
The King County Regional Health Needs Inventory (RHNI) is a compilation of health-related data that together, begin to tell the story of the health and social service needs of our region, the health disparities faced by many, and how well those needs are being met by local services.
Through the Medicaid Transformation Project, HealthierHere has an opportunity to make a significant difference for King County Medicaid members. In doing so, we’ll help drive innovation in our region that leads to better health and well-being for everyone.
HealthierHere’s Performance Measurement and Data Committee developed the RHNI in partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County, and with data contributions from many federal, state, and local sources.
What did we learn?
A lot. Compared to non-Medicaid residents, King County Medicaid enrollees showed a number of distinct trends. For example, individuals with Medicaid were more likely to live in South Seattle, South King County cities near the I-5 corridor, and part of Shoreline adjacent to State Route 99—those areas also largely correlated with lower health care use and poorer health outcomes. They were also more likely to be people of color, and less likely to speak English very well. Medicaid enrollees experienced more barriers to accessing primary care and other social services (such as access to transportation or affordable housing), and had more unmet medical needs for mental health, substance use disorder, chronic respiratory disease, and other health conditions. Additionally, they were disproportionately women, children, people with disabilities, and older adults.
Curious to learn more? Read the full report here.
How can HealthierHere help?
HealthierHere is partnering with local community-based organizations, consumers, and health care providers to innovate and test approaches designed to reduce barriers to care, improve access to treatment, address health needs, and link social services to clinics to better address the social determinants of health. Moving forward, HealthierHere will use data to measure our impact on King County community members’ health and well-being including the use of health care, and data will help guide next steps for the region.
“HealthierHere leads with equity and uses data to inform all stages of our work,” says Susan McLaughlin, HealthierHere’s Executive Director. “We all need to be working together to address serious and growing disparities in our region. Our hope is that we can collectively apply what we’ve learned from the data and drive strategic innovations together with our partners to benefit everyone.”
To develop wide-reaching, sustainable improvements, we’ll use a variety of approaches. For instance, a core component of HealthierHere’s plan is to establish a system of collaboration between the health care system and social services. Additionally, we’re working to expand access to Community Health Workers and Peer Support Specialists who have personal experience that enhances their ability to provide effective, culturally responsive care coordination. We’ve also outlined plans to improve access to treatment for individuals with an opioid use disorder and support prevention efforts including opioid education and strategic distribution of naloxone kits to prevent overdoses.
Through the Medicaid Transformation Project, we’ve already earned $23 million to invest in local improvements and innovations, with plans to earn more investment funds with the help of our partners.
How can I support HealthierHere’s work?
We can’t do any of this alone. “There’s an African proverb that says, If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” notes Marya Gingrey, HealthierHere’s Director of Equity and Community Engagement. “HealthierHere is all about partnership. We’re bringing our community together to innovate and test new and better ways to respond to health and social challenges, so the system can work better for everyone.”
We encourage organizations and individuals to stay engaged with the work of HealthierHere and find ways to plug in. Take the RHNI, for instance. We hope this information is helpful to others trying to navigate how they can better serve our community. Visit our website for a data dashboard of our regional health needs and demographics.
For more information and updates on HealthierHere’s work, visit www.HealthierHere.org and sign up for our newsletter.