EHF launches pilot project to help health centers screen for social determinants of health

Three primary care clinics begin a year-long effort to implement a nationally-recognized system of understanding and acting on the social challenges that directly affect their patients' health.

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EHF has launched a pilot project with St. David’s Foundation to help primary care clinics implement a screening tool — PRAPARE — to identify social challenges directly affecting patients’ health with the goals of improving patient care, addressing underlying social conditions and informing larger public policies.

Three clinics — HOPE Clinic in Houston, People’s Community Clinic in Austin, and Lone Star Circle of Care in Central Texas — have started a year-long process of training and technical assistance to use the PRAPARE tool.

PRAPARE is a national standardized screening tool to help health centers collect and apply the data they need to better understand their patients’ social determinants of health. Results of the screening are then used by clinics to better target clinical and non-clinical care specific to a patient’s needs. PRAPARE was created by a partnership led by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

“When we started asking, it was evident that clinics were not collecting data that could help identify the root causes of many poor health outcomes,” said Shao-Chee Sim, EHF’s VP for applied research.

Sim says PRAPARE provides a systeEHF Dee's Story photo 3.jpgmatic way for these clinics to discover and address factors like substandard housing, employment issues, food insecurity and lack of transportation that directly impact a person’s health. 

“If clinics don’t ask the questions, they don’t have the answers to truly improve their patients’ overall health,” Sim said. “This is a proven tool to affect change for individual patients and the broader community.”

After goal-setting and extensive training, the participating clinics will implement the PRAPARE tool with sets of at least 400 patients and begin training on how to analyze and report the data.

“We’re eager to collect data on social, economic and community conditions, so we can use it to identify health and safety trends,” said Rhonda Mundhenk, CEO of Lone Star Circle of Care. “PRAPARE will give us information we need to consistently discover patients’ barriers to good health and seek to strengthen existing community-based partnerships and develop new collaborations to address social determinants of health.”

EHF’s pilot project will impact many more providers than these three clinics. The goal is to document best practices discovered through the project, and then share the findings with health centers in Texas and across the country. This will help more health centers better implement the PRAPARE screening tool.