Next Now: Understanding social determinants to deliver community wellness

Better health is not achieved merely with better medical care.

 When would a 50-year-old woman with diabetes most likely have a poor health outcome? When she lives in an area (urban, suburban or rural) that lacks access to healthy food, a safe place to exercise, or convenient transportation to medical care.

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What do these things have to do with diabetes? A lot, as research has shown that these and other factors, known as the social determinants of health (SDoH), play a significant role in the health (or sickness) of people and communities.

In fact, most people don’t realize that medical care accounts for only about 10-20% of the modifiable contributors to health. The SDoH, such as health-related behaviors, socioeconomic factors, and environmental factors, account for the remaining 80-90%.

To understand the factors that contribute to health, it’s essential we take a systematic look and think about the best solutions to achieve health goals. We also must understand that the determinants of health don’t contribute equally to a person’s overall health.

Although the impact of social determinants is generally well understood, they may not be as apparent in practice and steps must be taken to ensure clinicians and healthcare organizations assess patients for these factors as part of routine care.

Even more important than identification, however, clinicians must be supported with appropriate resources to effectively adjust the care plan to address socioeconomic factors which may limit or prevent patients from achieving health goals.

To this end, stakeholders across the country are evaluating new and innovative approaches to identify and address the health-related social and economic needs of patients and communities.

Our current issue of Next Now, the Allscripts eMagazine, explores the factors that contribute to a person’s health, does a deep dive into the social determinants of health, then looks at policy implications affecting a comprehensive approach to improve community health and well-being.

Read more here.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Allscripts' website

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