LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A $4.5 million award from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow University of Kentucky researchers to address health-related social needs of vulnerable Kentuckians.
The five-year grant means the UK Center for Health Services Research will establish the Kentucky Consortium for Accountable Health Communities, working across 27 counties in Appalachia and Louisville, to collect information from Medicare and Medicaid patients on unmet social needs that impact their health.
The goal is to reduce using healthcare services for issues that can be addressed by existing social programs, according to Joseph Smith, CEO of the Kentucky Primary Care Association, one of the agencies partnering with UK.
“We are committed to providing for the health of patients and influencing the social determinants of health to augment the services our members provide,” Smith said.
The hope is to enable patients in the study area to access information and assistance they need in their own communities, a long-term goal of UK HealthCare, said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for Health Affairs.
“With the CMS award, our researchers will have the opportunity to identify where gaps exist in the care Appalachian residents may be experiencing,” Karpf said. “At UK HealthCare, we believe Kentuckians should be able to receive the best in care without ever leaving the state.”
“This award, and the research being done with it, will allow physicians to better address health and social needs of their patients,” says Mark D. Birdwhistell, vice president for administration and external affairs at UK HealthCare. “Addressing these needs will be critical for reducing the burden of health disparities, especially by patients in Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia.”
UK has been approved for the highest level of participation in the Accountable Health Communities model developed by CMS. Track three participation, as it’s known, emphasizes community participation, including help from community members in identifying social services available in the region and training navigators who can help patients access services.