New Orleans Business Alliance

Social Isolation Intervention Challenge

Partner:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System

Summary:

Our challenge is to develop a targeted intervention effectively addressing social isolation in the aging adult population that is scalable and affordable. The intervention focuses on loneliness in this group and, if effective, would be expected to improve health care utilization and outcomes.

Full Challenge Statement:

Social Determinants Challenge: Social Isolation Intervention

The United States is experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift. In just 10 years, the number of people age 65 and older increased from 37.2 million to 52 million (from 2006 to 2016).1 By 2060, this population will nearly double to encompass approximately one quarter of the total population.2 With more of these senior adults choosing to live alone and age in place, addressing the prevalence of social isolation has become a global health priority.

Social isolation, defined as the distancing of an individual psychologically, physically or both from his or her network of relationships, affects a disproportionate share of the aging population.3 Contextual and social factors play a fundamental role in the manifestation of social isolation. Ultimately, isolation can affect quality of life and has been linked to various physical and mental conditions such as heart disease, obesity, depression and dementia. These individuals are at risk for poor health outcomes and higher care costs, which generate an additional $134 per month in health-related expenses per individual, and $6.7 billion in Medicare spending per year.4 Existing interventions for isolation, including activity and support groups, personal contact and alternative models of care, fail to address the scope of mental and physical risk factors associated with social isolation.

Our challenge is to develop a targeted intervention effectively addressing social isolation in the aging adult population that is scalable and affordable. The intervention focuses on loneliness in this group and, if effective, would be expected to improve health care utilization and outcomes.

Prize Package:

Selected finalist(s) are eligible to receive a cash prize of up to $36,000, as well as the opportunity to receive in-kind prizes, such as free co-working space, a spot on a startup accelerator program, and more items, subject to availability. Selected finalist(s) may also be selected by one or more of the challenge supporters to participate in a pilot, co-development or other business relationship.

Additional Questions:

Sources

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Projections, 2017.
  3. Biordi, D.L., & Nicholson, N.R. (2009). Social isolation. Chronic Illness: Impact and Interventions. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 85-116.
  4. Medicare Spends More on Socially Isolated Older Adults. AARP, 2017.
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