There is growing recognition that social factors — such as individual behavior, socioeconomic status, and the physical environment — have a greater impact on health outcomes than medical care. More and more states are seeking to rethink traditional health care delivery and, in doing so, integrate health care, public health, and social services to help achieve improved population health, better care, and reduced cost of care.

This brief from The Commonwealth Fund, authored by the Center for Health Care Strategies, describes three essential components for integrating health — encompassing physical and behavioral health services and public health — and social services. These components are: (1) a coordinating mechanism; (2) quality measurement and data-sharing tools; and (3) aligned financing and payment.

The authors present a five-step policy framework to help states move beyond isolated pilot efforts and establish the infrastructure necessary to support ongoing integration of health and social services, particularly for Medicaid beneficiaries. The brief draws from conversations with state officials and health policy experts across the country.