First Advisor

Charles H. Klein

Date of Publication

Spring 6-5-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Anthropology






Integrated delivery of health care -- Case studies, Community health services, Public health



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 67 pages)


There is emerging evidence that addressing health-related social needs through enhanced clinical-community linkages can improve health outcomes and reduce costs. Unmet health-related social needs, such as food insecurity, inadequate or unstable housing, and lack of access to transportation may increase the risk of developing chronic conditions, reduce an individual's ability to manage these conditions, increase health care costs, and lead to avoidable health care utilization. In response, work on social needs is happening across large health systems in the United States, but the pace of progress is slow and accountability is diffuse.

The goal of this applied research project is to examine Kaiser Permanente Northwest's patient navigator program as a case study for how health systems can transform into organizations that bridge clinical, social and behavioral health and redefine what it means to be a prevention-oriented delivery system. Kaiser Permanente Northwest (KPNW) provides high quality, patient-centered care to over 550,000 medical members and 240,000 dental members in Oregon and Southwest Washington. In conjunction with the Care Management Institute, KPNW created a patient navigator administered, social needs screening tool called "Your Current Life Situation" (YCLS). This thesis focuses on the data collected from this screening tool with an emphasis on operations management, workflows, and the technical tools that have been supported to do this work. The analysis also uses semi-structured qualitative interviews from patient navigators, physicians, social workers, community organizations and members to better understand the experience of social needs screening in clinical practice and its impact on members and community partners as they receive referrals for services outside the health care delivery system. Through using anthropological theory and methods, I seek to help health systems think and act differently by elevating the voice and experience of the community and translating vulnerable populations' needs into a language that can be integrated into multiple systems of care.


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