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Press Release

Element3 Health Supports United Healthcare and AMA Effort to Give Patients Better Access to Social Determinants of Health Solutions

By May 16, 2019 No Comments

DENVER, Colo. (May 16, 2019) – Element3 Health today announced its support of the proposed expansion of ICD-10 codes to include Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). The inclusion of SDOH is an important and meaningful step toward improving health outcomes of seniors, lowering healthcare costs and delaying or avoiding the onset of debilitating diseases.

A study of 500 random patients found that 68% suffer with at least one SDoH challenge, with 57% having moderate-to-high risk in at least one of the following categories: financial insecurity, social isolation, housing insecurity, addiction, transportation access, food insecurity and health literacy. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services closed public comment on the codes Friday and will consider adopting the codes starting Oct. 1, 2020.

“Not everything that afflicts patients can be cured with a pill. Expanding the ICD-10 codes to include Social Determinants of Health will empower physicians to treat their patients holistically,” said Element3 Health CEO David Norris.

Denver-based Element3 Health is a healthcare company dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of seniors through activities that engage them mentally, physically and socially. Mounting evidence supports the understanding of social isolation and loneliness as significant underlying sources of deteriorating health. Element3 Health’s activity-based model addresses social isolation and loneliness, reducing costs while improving health.

According to studies conducted by the AARP and other institutions, social isolation alone costs Medicare an estimated $6.7 billion in preventable  healthcare expenses annually. A steady wave of national and international research confirms that programs that help keep seniors physically, mentally and socially active are low-cost, highly effective safeguards against declining health, disease development and rising healthcare costs.

For example:
· The Harvard Study of Adult Development, an 80-year longitudinal study of men out of Harvard found that having strong social connections helped keep men alive and healthy well into their 80s and 90s.
· An NIH study published in 2012 found that leisure-time physical activity extends life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years.

“Our own internal research supports the relationship between social activity and lower physician visits and medication use,” Norris said. “Giving physicians the ability to diagnose conditions such as loneliness and social isolation as risk factors in both chronic and acute health conditions will simplify a patient’s entry into proven, non-medical programs that drive health outcomes and reduce costs.”

Barrier-free entry to non-medical healthcare programs are already in place in the U.K., where the government recently approved a plan to create a network of 1,000 “social prescribing workers” by April 2021. Physicians will refer patients to these workers who will direct patients to a variety of activities. The idea is to keep these patients engaged in their communities and off of medications.

“The United States now has the opportunity to build upon the work being done in the U.K. and take a lead in confronting SDOH,” Norris said. “We applaud the efforts of United Healthcare, American Medical Association, BCBS Vermont and Yale’s School of Nursing in promoting these changes, and we support wholeheartedly the addition of SDOH to the existing ICD-10 codes.”

About Element3 Health

Element3 Health is a network that engages 50-plus adults around their passions to increase their physical, social and mental activity for healthy aging. The company combines the three most powerful elements of health into one cohesive solution in order to tackle the $75 billion of unnecessary healthcare spending associated with social, mental and physical decline among seniors. The company’s GroupWorks engagement platform is growing quickly, adding millions of members and tens of thousands of groups across more than 120 passions. Using an activity scoring engine, Element3 Health can calculate individual ActivityBenefitTM scores and use their proprietary GroupMatchTM matching engine to help optimize members’ health across social, mental and physical metrics.


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Mayrav Saar