As the largest healthcare provider in the Intermountain West, Intermountain Healthcare is extending their reach beyond hospitals and directly into communities by leading a new collaborative group of stakeholders, the Utah Alliance for the Determinants of Health (The Alliance). Working in vulnerable and at-risk communities to improve health outcomes, Intermountain Healthcare and The Alliance are making strides to increase the quality of healthcare while making healthcare available and affordable to all by treating health issues before they become critical.

The Alliance gathered data to identify specific communities where non-medical health factors, called social determinants of health–such as access to education, healthcare, healthy food, and the absence of the threat of violence–are putting individuals at risk of major health issues and shorter life spans.

“Data suggests your zip code can have more to do with your health than your DNA,” said Chris Dallin, Communications Director for Intermountain Healthcare. In Utah, life expectancy can vary five to 10 years between zip codes.

To counter this effect, Intermountain Healthcare identified four zip codes in the state, two in Ogden and two in St. George, to begin demonstration programs. In partnership with local and state government agencies, nonprofits, community organizations, and SelectHealth Medicaid members, Intermountain will work with communities to break down barriers to healthcare and treatment, ultimately improving the overall quality of life in these areas.

Intermountain will also seek to learn more about what unique challenges these communities are facing and how they can tailor care to best serve the population. Identifying community-specific barriers to treatment could mean fewer doctor and hospital visits over time for a patient, reducing overall healthcare costs.

If the demonstrations prove successful in these four pilot zip codes, Intermountain Healthcare will be looking to expand to other areas of the state. Thanks to their leadership, access to quality healthcare is attainable for our most vulnerable communities.

Learn more about Intermountain Healthcare here.