Currently Viewing:
Newsroom

5 Things About the Importance of Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Laura Joszt
The shift of the healthcare industry to focus more on quality care and prevention of health issues before they arise has increased attention on an area outside of healthcare that needs to be addressed: social determinants of health.
The shift of the healthcare industry to focus more on quality care and prevention of health issues before they arise has increased attention on an area outside of healthcare that needs to be addressed: social determinants of health.

More and more, physicians and other health providers are realizing that they cannot be responsible for just what happens inside the 4 walls of their clinic. The lives people live every day for the rest of the year have a profound impact on their health. Social determinants are the factors that contribute to a person’s health, such as where they live and work, their housing situation, and their access to healthy food.

Here are 5 reasons more people are paying attention to addressing social determinants of health.

1. Holistic care

The United States spends more per capita on healthcare than any other developed nation and has no better outcomes. Other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development spend more on social care than healthcare. Research has shown that higher social spending improves outcomes in conditions like obesity, asthma, mental illness, and type 2 diabetes.

Addressing the whole person means tracking what affects a person outside of the provider's office, and that will require better and more connected technology.

2. Food insecurity

A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that addressing food insecurity was associated with significantly lower healthcare expenditures. The study looked at participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which serves 1 in 7 Americans and helps them buy food for their house.

After adjusting for factors like race/ethnicity, education, comorbidities, and geographic location, the study found that low-income adults who participated in SNAP had healthcare expenditures that were $1409 lower per year compared with those who did not participate in SNAP.

3. Community partnerships

With so much of a person’s life taking place outside of the health provider’s reach, community partnerships are key to ensure that once patients leave the doctor’s office, they have resources at hand to help.

CMS recently launched the Accountable Health Communities model to encourage community partnerships between providers and nonmedical social support groups. For instance, providers can partner with food banks and direct patients suffering from food insecurity to them.

4. Focusing on education

Some public interventions focus on education because children receiving quality education are less likely to engage in risky or unhealthy behaviors. In the 1960s, the Perry Preschool Project in Michigan showed that disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds who received high-quality preschool education were less likely to smoke or abuse drugs or other substances. In addition, those children grew up to have a higher education, income, and health insurance coverage.

5. Additional investment needed

Significant investments need to be made into interventions that address social determinants of health in order to make a difference. But, the investment is worth it, according to speakers at the 2016 annual meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Rocco Perla, president of Health Leads, and Karin VanZant, executive director of Life Sciences at CareSource, discussed the business case for investing in programs to address social determinants of health.

“We will find it hard to achieve health economic reform if we don’t address patients’ lives outside the clinic,” Perla said.

 
Copyright AJMC 2006-2018 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
x
Welcome the the new and improved AJMC.com, the premier managed market network. Tell us about yourself so that we can serve you better.
Sign Up
×

Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!