SDOH startup Spatially Health partners with Florida ACO amid new CMS rules on equity

Spatially Health, a female-founded health tech startup, has teamed up with ACO Health Partners in Florida.

The startup, which uses geospatial analytics and location intelligence to identify social determinants of health, will integrate its platform with the accountable care organization. The dynamic platform, which learns with new data, provides targeted intervention recommendations to address barriers to care and ranks patients by vulnerability so the most pressing needs get addressed first, according to executives.

“Spatially’s analytics allows us to understand some of the underlying social determinant issues impacting our patients that we can now proactively address as part of our engagement. With engagement comes better outcomes and lower costs,” Marsha Boggess, CEO of ACO Health Partners, said in a press release. Spatially has also helped the organization develop a health equity plan that is actionable, she added. 

When it comes to healthcare, understanding what is happening to a patient population outside the clinical walls is key. Spatially claims its recommendations enhance patient engagement and improve medical management programs. 

“We’re spending a ton of money, but we’re not getting the outcomes that we want, which means that we’re putting our resources in the wrong places,” Spatially co-founder and CEO Hillit Meidar-Alfi, Ph.D., told Fierce Healthcare.

The partnership comes amid new compliance requirements on equity as part of the Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access and Community Health (ACO REACH) Model. Last October, Spatially Health launched a 90-day equity equalizer pilot for risk-based organizations to develop an equity plan and streamline data collection, some of which come with financial incentives as part of the ACO REACH program. 

As part of the pilot, providers got access to Spatially’s essential data intelligence and cost savings. Spatially argues compliance with the new requirements demands a sophisticated, technical approach—one that is typically not in a provider's wheelhouse, Meidar-Alfi said. 

Meidar-Alfi’s background in architecture and city planning opened her eyes to the extent to which people are influenced by their environment. “The decisions that they make, what’s afforded to them, what their influences are, is strongly affected by the built environment,” she said.

The reason Spatially is focused on risk-based organizations is that they need to make financial sense of equity work. Spatially hopes to show that health equity is not just good work; it has value. “Addressing social determinants of health the right way—there’s value to it, there’s a business model there that makes sense,” Meidar-Alfi said. “Health equity for us is a huge new opportunity in the healthcare industry to start focusing resources where they need to go so that we can get the outcomes that we want.”