By Ken Bates
Ken Bates is the president and CEO of Worcester nonprofit Open Sky Community Services, where he led the $82-million merger of The Bridge of Central Massachusetts and Alternatives Unlimited.
10) The needs are increasing. The needs of people served by the healthcare and human service systems are increasing – mental health challenges, substance use disorders, trauma, homelessness, food insecurity and more. These needs make it more critical we approach care as whole-person care and be sure to include supports to address social determinants.
9) Social determinants of health contribute more than 60% of an individual’s health status. Social and environmental factors such as housing, nutrition, employment status contribute in a big way to the health and wellbeing of everyone.
8) Healthcare and human services systems must continue to align with and support each other. Each sector has unique strengths, and by working together we can leverage those strengths to improve the health of our community.
7) Cultural responsiveness and inclusion matter. We must provide culturally responsive, equitable and inclusive supports. We must make intentional efforts to ensure our organizations are reflective of and responsive to the communities we serve.
6) There is a workforce crisis. Our society must more strongly value the work of the direct care professionals who provide services for the most vulnerable among us.
5) There is an increased focus on value-based care. The health and human service system is moving away from fee-for-service payment structures to one valuing quality over quantity. To thrive, we must collect and share data demonstrating the impact we are having on people’s wellbeing.
4) An aging population brings additional challenges. 10,000 people turn 65 every day in this country, putting more pressure on healthcare and human services. More people will need more services while fewer workers remain to provide those services. Moving the focus of care from institutions to home- and community-based supports, as well as exploring technology use, will be needed.
3) Technological advancements are vital. Technology must be leveraged to improve patient outcomes and experiences, while reducing costs.
2) Grassroots community organizations are critically important. While the integration of health and human services is ongoing, grassroots community organizations and initiatives must remain strong and engaged in creating healthy communities.
1) Peer supports will continue to grow. Peers enhance the recovery of people with mental and substance-use disorders. Peers offer their unique lived experience and work one-on-one as role models, mentors, coaches and advocates.