The path to improved population health – healthy communities with high quality of life – in South Carolina is paved by a greater focus on what patients and communities need to get and stay healthy outside of clinic walls.
What do healthier communities look like? What are the comprehensive solutions across continuums of care that focus on both wellness and prevention, which in turn result in improved population health?
These were the questions that stakeholders from across the state, myself included, came together to address in order to put South Carolina on the path to healthier communities.
The Workforce for Health Taskforce was established by the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health and convened monthly from April 2018 to February 2019 to evaluate the state of health and the future of the health and human service workforce in South Carolina to support a healthier state.
Our conversations centered on creating improved population health by preparing the state’s health and human service workforce – from those in traditional health care roles to social workers to community health workers to substance abuse counselors – in an age of transforming payment models as billing for individual services is replaced by models rewarding positive health outcomes. Focusing on population health is more than providing clinical care and requires exploring tangible strategies for fostering collaboration between public health and health care that produce truly transformative approaches.
That transformation includes being willing to assess what patients and communities need to get and stay healthy. By shifting to person-centered care within a coordinated system, new avenues open to ensure patients get the right level of care at the right time in the right place.
Each of the recommendations outlined in the report, “The Evolving Health Workforce: Redefining Health Care Delivery in South Carolina,” recognizes the decades of important health systems transformation and health workforce initiatives in our state while also acknowledging areas that we can all work together to improve.
For example, an evolving workforce focused on population health means investing in a workforce with different skills and trainings. Today, patients are often presenting with concerns that are not medical but will cause health challenges if left unaddressed, requiring an integrated care team that includes people in new roles.
When it comes to improved health for all in the Palmetto State, our focus must be on prevention and outcomes-driven care. This approach has been a focus for Greenville Health System (GHS) and the Care Coordination Institute for many years. With GHS and Palmetto Health coming together as Prisma Health, our work to improve health in South Carolina will continue and expand, as new communities across the state will be able to experience what Greenville has been implementing for over five years.
Together, we are addressing gaps in care and helping communities provide residents with the care they need to stay healthy and out of the hospital – and that is only the beginning of paving the way to population health for all in the Palmetto State.