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Whole Person Health Approach To Healthcare: Why it Matters For Arkansas

Helping you and your family achieve better health throughout your life is central to our mission at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. As we strive to give our members access to the best quality care, we know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is about more than having access to, and coverage of a visit to the doctor or a stay in the hospital.

Health is influenced by many factors.

We often think first of the physical elements of diagnosis and treatment. However, it’s just as important to focus on our mental and emotional well-being. When these are in good shape – factors often called behavioral health – we’re more likely to eat healthy, exercise, go to the doctor for a check-up and do other things that help maintain good health. On the other hand, behavioral health conditions such as addiction, anxiety and depression can limit healthy behavior and, if ignored, can worsen our health. There is a strong link between physical and behavioral health, and that is why addressing both is critical for overall wellness.

Because of this, Arkansas Blue Cross is committed to addressing all the ways that lifestyle, behavior, environment and medical history can affect the physical and mental health of those we serve. We call this a “Whole Person Approach” to healthcare.

Factors That Influence our Whole Health

A Whole Person Approach allows us to take a broader view of health and healthcare. Instead of focusing on a specific function of our health, like treatment of a physical or mental health condition such as heart disease or depression, we help address the many, interconnected factors in our lives. We believe that whole person health is also affected by factors such as our economic security, access to nutritious food, a person’s race and gender and the environment we live, work and socialize. These elements are often called social drivers, or social determinants, of health.

Understanding how these forces are connected allows us to better address the root causes of physical and behavioral health, and develop programs to make a difference for Arkansans. And we do so in collaboration with care providers and community partners across the state, to help people where they live, work, go to school and play.

Examples of how physical, behavioral and environmental health factors can intersect include:

  • Experiencing a behavioral health condition, such as depression or anxiety, can change how we physically feel, such as bringing on symptoms like headaches, weight gain, trouble sleeping and muscle pain, and even contributing to long-term physical health conditions.
  • Living in an unsanitary environment can cause the risk of a range of infections, allergies or more serious long-term health issues.
  • A lack of consistent access to nutritious food – an issue called food insecurity – can have serious impact on childhood physical and mental health development, along with a range of health issues in adults.

How Arkansas Blue Cross is Helping

At Arkansas Blue Cross, we recognize that achieving and maintaining a complete, healthy lifestyle can be easier said than done, which is why we are proud to have implemented programs that provide opportunities for our members and our community to access resources and support for the whole health of themselves and their family.

Below are some ways Arkansas Blue Cross is active in helping individuals across the Natural State:

  • Care Management: We know the healthcare system can be hard to navigate, which is why we have an accredited care management team available to our members at their disposal. Care management is a cooperative process between members, their families, their doctors and nurses and their health plan.
  • Behavioral Health Support: At Arkansas Blue Cross we believe a person’s behavioral health is just as important as the more visible and physical health attributes. In our whole person health approach, we place an emphasis on behavioral healthcare support for our members. We know that behavioral health conditions are on the rise and given the added stressors from the pandemic we expect this will continue to be an important focus for us as we seek to support our members and communities with behavioral health needs.
  • Health Education Programs: We believe that a critical step to improving your whole health is understanding your health conditions and what care options may be available. We provide education to support our members with managing and navigating care for their health conditions whether that be pregnancy, diabetes, chronic asthma and more. When you’re faced with a new or ongoing health condition, the information can be overwhelming and we’re here to support our members to identify the best path of care for them.
  • Help Near Home, Powered by Aunt Bertha: Arkansas Blue Cross has a partnership with a company called Aunt Bertha that allows us to connect our members with critical social services support. It creates a social care network that connects people and programs – making it easier for people to find local social services that support healthier lifestyles.

We are constantly evolving our approach to ensure our members have access to innovative programs that can help them, and their families, achieve a healthy life. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing additional information on whole person health and the programs available to our members to support their health journeys. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date and keep checking Blueprint.

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