Partnering with communities to help achieve health equity

UHC Catalyst pairs community need with data insights to empower change

Understanding health challenges and identifying care gaps in the community is essential to helping the health care system work better for everyone. Did you know that 80% of a person’s health care is determined by factors outside a doctor’s office?1 UnitedHealthcare CatalystTM focuses on the communities where our members live in an effort to advance health equity, build on existing care systems and improve outcomes.

Our goal is to achieve successful outcomes by:

  • Building trust, connecting and collaborating with community partners
  • Creating repeatable, long-term solutions for high-priority community health needs with existing community resources
  • Providing a large-scale, visible and actionable approach to help solve health inequities
  • Informing future health care strategies by recognizing that “health” is as much social as it is clinical

Understanding communities’ biggest health needs

UnitedHealthcare Catalyst brings together detailed community health data analysis and voices in the community to help understand the highest-priority health challenges. Collective input from community leaders and community members guides the Catalyst approach in determining the most important health and social needs to measure and address.

UnitedHealthcare Catalyst areas of focus

Some of the focus areas selected by our partner communities include:

Chronic condition management, largely centering on diabetes and nutrition

Behavioral and mental health, which includes housing and health education support

Maternal and child health addressing racial disparities

Care access and affordability

Building solutions to help improve health outcomes

After data analysis and community listening, the next step is to work toward an achievable, sustainable solution for the community health need. These are the steps it takes to get there.

  • Connect with community partners to collectively develop the initiative. It’s important that everyone’s voice is heard, and the decision making is a shared effort.
  • Define clear roles, responsibilities and measurable outcomes. That way, we can drive real change and make sure our collective efforts support both partner goals and community needs.
  • Measure and refine. We track success by measuring outcomes. This helps refine the approach if needed and provide sustainable solutions.

Organizing in communities across the country

One of UnitedHealthcare Catalyst’s guiding principles is that we can do more together than we ever could apart. We collaborate with over 100 different community-level partners in more than 25 diverse communities, which are home to 5.5 million UnitedHealthcare members. These include public housing agencies, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), faith-based organizations, academic institutions, community-based organizations (CBOs) and more.

Learn how our collaborative efforts are helping a few of our communities drive positive change.

Kansas City, Missouri

Helping reduce disparities and improving maternal health outcomes in underserved communities

In Jackson County, 1 in 9 babies are born with a low birthweight.2 Infants born with a low birthweight are at higher risk of immediate complications including respiratory distress, infections and jaundice, as well as long-term conditions such as delayed development, high blood pressure and diabetes.3, 4 Between 2020 and 2022, the rate of infants born with a low birthweight in Jackson increased more than 15%. Community insights suggest lack of insurance coverage, limited or no use of pre- and post-natal care, and reduced availability of resources (like nutritious food and transportation) add challenges to having a healthy pregnancy. The county also earned a “F” in the latest March of Dimes Report Card.

To address barriers to accessing care in the Kansas City community, we partner with Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center and Northland Health Care Access, a community-based health care advocacy organization to offer a maternal health program which includes: 

  • Educating members on the importance of pre- and post-natal care, well child visits, and additional resources available for accessing care
  • Incorporating dental care and depression screenings more consistently into pre-natal care plans to support physical and behavioral health needs
  • Screening for and identifying social needs and making referrals to community partners for access to transportation, housing, healthy food and other health related social need resources

The impact of the program is continuously evaluated for purposes of program refinement and results are reported annually.

Since 2021, participants in the program experienced the following:

  • 11% increase in depression screenings  
  • 66% reduction in low birthweight prevalence 
  • 52% increase in postpartum care engagement
  • 245% increase in dental care for OB patients

The Kansas City model is informing the design of community programming in three additional cities and customer-specific programming for maternal health related benefits.

Maui, Hawai’i

Helping improve health outcomes and food access with local produce

In Hawaiʻi, access to healthy and nutritious food is a major barrier to managing health. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, they are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, with most of their food being imported and not locally farmed.

In partnership with Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, WaiPono Aquaponic Greenhouse at University of Hawaiʻi and Kanu Ka ’Ike (local farmers), patients diagnosed with diabetes (and those at risk for developing diabetes) receive:

  • Access to boxes of fresh, local produce 
  • Classes that teach healthy eating and how to cook meals with the food in their food boxes   

As a result of the Catalyst program:

  • WaiPono Aquaponic Greenhouse increased food production by 83% and produced eight new crops
  • Kanu Ka ’Ike harvested over 1,000 pounds of kalo, which is used to make poi, a key staple of the Hawaiian diet
  • 30% of patients in the program have already seen improved outcomes, including blood pressure and hemoglobin A1C measurements
  • Program patients are more engaged with their health and are better equipped with tools and resources to manage their diabetes or prediabetes