Social Isolation

The impact on health outcomes during and beyond COVID-19 

The third of a 3-part series in Responding to COVID-19 and Beyond


Innovation showcase

Through a curated and highly selective process, the Selection Committee nominated the following ventures to present. 


Expert Panel

The webinar started with a panel featuring the following experts:

Bruce Chernoff

Bruce Chernof

Rani Snyder.jpeg

Rani Snyder

Renee Markus-Hodin.jpeg

Renee Markus Hodin

Deputy Director, Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst


Statement of need

Background and Need


Social isolation is a growing challenge with dire implications on health outcomes and is well-documented amongst senior citizens. One in four Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 report that they feel socially isolated and one in three people between ages 65-84 and 50% of people over 85 live alone. Addressing social isolation is critical as the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double by 2060, with seniors’ share of the total population expected to rise from 15% to nearly 24%. A 2009 study on cardiac disease found that “living alone was identified as the single most important risk factor for early readmission to a hospital.” Estimates by AARP suggest that social isolation adds $6.7 billion annually to Medicare's medical costs. Social isolation increases the odds of death by 26% and the odds of having a stroke by 32%. 

COVID-19 will likely have an acute impact for both older adults with existing chronic social isolation, as well as younger populations that are newly experiencing isolation during shelter-in-place. Social distancing is critical for reducing the disease spread, but could negatively impact already high rates of isolation.

The full impact of social isolation as a result of the pandemic prevention strategy is yet to be known (although early assessments have shown dramatic short-term increases), specifically among low-income populations that have poor access to care and experience a higher degree of social and economic vulnerability. 




We are interested in solutions that can address social isolation experienced by vulnerable, low-income patients as a result of this pandemic, and which can be used beyond the current crisis. COVID-19 is a significant agitator of existing chronic social isolation among key populations – notably those 50 and over. We are particularly focused on solutions that consider those individuals with historical social isolation risks, and that have differentiated delivery and technology to overcome challenges in digital access, literacy, and income. Companies should consider a plan and/or state buyer and thus have a well thought out approach towards tracking quality and value. Further, companies should have a solution that can address chronic social isolation in a culturally appropriate way that is aligned with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines while looking at likely future circumstances in public health practice.