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Primary care entrants like Cityblock get insurer attention as doctors burn out trying to address SDOH

The news: Social determinants of health (SDOH)-focused primary care entrant Cityblock Health partnered with health maintenance organization MDwise to expand its primary care presence to Indiana—the seventh state it now operates in.

How Cityblock works: It partners with insurers to deliver primary care, mental healthcare, and social services to primarily Medicaid and lower-income Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Cityblock gives patients 24/7 virtual care access to a team including a nurse practitioner, physician, and mental health specialist.
  • It matches patients with a Community Health Partner to help coordinate transportation to appointments, fill out applications, and check in throughout the care process.
  • On the provider side, Cityblock partners with local community organizations (like housing organizations) to fill in any SDOH gaps.
  • Plus, its platform parses through EHR data to flag any SDOH factors that could negatively impact a patient’s health outcomes.

The larger trend: Most physicians think SDOH is important to address, but they simply don’t have the time or resources to do this effectively.

  • Most (95%) physicians believe their patients’ health outcomes are affected by SDOH like food, transportation, and housing, per an April 2022 Physicians Foundation survey.

Awareness of the impact of SDOH doesn't mean they’re easy to tackle though. The top reasons physicians say they can’t address SDOH (per The Physicians Foundation) include:

  • Limited amount of time during the patient visit (89%)
  • A lack of workforce to direct community resources (84%)
  • Difficulty accessing community resources (77%)

The big takeaway: More insurers are interested in paying for services provided by entrants like Cityblock to minimize physicians’ workloads.

By partnering with an entrant like Cityblock, in-network physicians can outsource their SDOH work to community partners, rather than overextend themselves. In fact, in their attempt to address SDOH, many doctors (83%) felt burnt out, per The Physicians Foundation. For context, insurers like Tufts Health Plan, CareFirst, and EmblemHealth are already teamed up with Cityblock.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.