Medical treatment is important to the health people on Medicaid and Medicare. That much seems obvious.
What may not be so obvious is that social, economic and behavioral factors are even more important, according to data presented Tuesday by Dr. David Kendrick of MyHealth Access Network.
Those three components total 70 percent of health indicators, Kendrick said Tuesday, compared to just 10 percent for health care delivery systems — which is why a an effort is underway in Oklahoma and nationally to better connect Medicaid and Medicare providers with social service agencies.
To that end, MyHealth, the Tulsa Health Department, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and more than 400 social service groups are partnering on a five-year initiative funded by a $4.5 million federal grant.
The ultimate goal is to improve general health and save taxpayers money through early intervention in potential health problems.
“I would expect to see us impacting cost by decreasing pressure on the Medicaid budget,” Kendrick said.
“We knew we have resources, they’re just maldistributed,” he said. “This is a chance to change that.”
The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, the federal agency that administers those programs, has authorized grants to 32 networks.
Oklahoma network, called the Route 66 consortium, held the first meeting of partners and potential partners from the northeast end of the Turner Turnpike on Tuesday morning at the Central Library.
Subsequent introductory meetings were scheduled Tuesday afternoon in Oklahoma city and Wednesday in Lawton.
MyHealth, a Tulsa-based nonprofit network for electronic sharing of medical records, will act as the “bridge” — really more of a hub — into which information from health care providers, patients, insurers and social service agencies flows and is appropriately linked.
Initially, the program is for Medicaid and Medicare patients only, but the hope is that information gleaned from it will help other Oklahoma households, particularly those with low and moderate income.
“With the rise in high-deductible insurance, a lot of people may have insurance but they can’t afford the $5,000 deductible,” Kendrick said.
The plan is to have a pilot project in place by the first of the year and for the network to be fully operational by May 1.