Health-Related Social Needs Screening: Promising Practices from the Accountable Health Communities Model
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation
Health-related social needs (HRSNs), such as food insecurity and housing instability, drive health and well-being. The socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic increased the prevalence of HRSNs and highlighted the critical need for strategies to address those needs, particularly in communities experiencing health disparities. Implementing HRSN screening requires adopting effective strategies to overcome common challenges. This report synthesizes promising implementation approaches and lessons learned from the Accountable Health Communities Model, a national effort funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center to systematically screen for and address HRSNs in clinical settings. Key strategies include increasing patient engagement and building trust through culturally tailored language and outreach; using and sharing data for monitoring and improvement; using technology to expand access to screening and referrals; dedicating staff to screening roles; integrating screening into existing workflows; and building buy-in among staff by communicating the impact of screening and encouraging peer connections.