This piece was part of a symposium featuring commentary from participants in the Center for Health Policy and Law’s annual conference, Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations, held on April 11-12, 2019 at Northeastern University School of Law. The symposium was originally posted through the Northeastern University Law Review Online Forum.
Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations Blog Symposium
We are pleased to present this symposium featuring commentary from participants in the Center for Health Policy and Law’s annual conference, Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations, held on April 11-12, 2019 at Northeastern University School of Law. As a note, additional detailed analyses of issues discussed during the conference will be published in the 2021 Winter Issue of the Northeastern University Law Review. @NUSLHealth @nulawreview
Throughout the two-day conference, speakers and attendees discussed how innovations, including artificial intelligence, robotics, mobile technology, gene therapies, pharmaceuticals, big data analytics, tele- and virtual health care delivery, and new models of delivery, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), retail clinics, and medical-legal partnerships (MLPs), have entered and changed the healthcare market. More dramatic innovations and market disruptions are likely in the years to come. These new technologies and market disruptions offer immense promise to advance health care quality and efficiency, as well as improve provider and patient engagement. Success will depend, however, on careful consideration of potential perils and well-planned interventions to ensure new methods ultimately further, rather than diminish, the health of patients, especially those who are the most vulnerable.
Jessica Mantel and Leah Fowler start off the Promises and Perils of Emerging Health Innovations blog symposium with a discussion about the ways in which medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) have improved quality and efficiency of care, particularly because of their innovative and interdisciplinary approach to addressing social and structural determinants of health. Mantel and Fowler, drawing on interviews with MLP professionals, highlight some of the successes existing MLPs have achieved, and share lessons learned and potential challenges for current and developing MLPs to consider.
The Promises and Perils of Medical Legal Partnerships
New payment models that reward improved health outcomes challenge providers to rethink how they treat patients. No longer content to simply treat patients’ underlying diseases, many providers have embraced innovative approaches that also address the social, economic, and environmental factors that affect well-being. One such innovation is medical legal partnerships (“MLPs”).
By integrating legal services into the heath care setting, MLPs address health-harming legal needs (“HHLNs”). Kate Marple, Framing Legal Care as Health Care, Nat’l Ctr. for Med. Legal P’ship (last visited Sept. 25, 2019). For example, MLP attorneys can initiate legal action against landlords whose housing code violations cause or exacerbate respiratory conditions, secure protective orders for the victims of domestic violence, or help those denied benefits under Medicaid or the Social Security Disability Income (“SSDI”) program file an appeal. MLP attorneys also train the medical partner’s clinicians and staff on how to identify patients with HHLNs and support patients exercising their legal rights, such as how to effectively navigate the SSDI application and appeals processes. Some MLPs also advocate for broad policy changes that ameliorate social determinants adverse to health.