3 things to know about social determinants of health

Hospitals and health systems continue to pour thousands of dollars into initiatives to improve social determinants of health. However, they may need to go one step further to truly make an impact, according to a post from the American Medical Association.

"While healthcare leaders have realized that programs to buy food, offer temporary housing or cover ride-sharing programs are less expensive than providing repeat healthcare services for their highest cost patients, such patient-centered assistance does not improve that underlying social and economic factors that affect the health of everyone in the community," said Brian Castrucci and John Auerbach, in a post from the Health Affairs Blog. "While targeted, small-scale social interventions provide invaluable assistance for individual patients, we must also remain focused on the social determinants that perpetuate poor health at the community level."

Here are three things for hospitals and health system leaders to focus on:

1. Along with knowing the area which patients live in, physicians should ask patients if they have access to transportation. It's also important to know if a patient has access to telehealth capabilities.

2. If a patient doesn't have access to a clinic, hospitals should provide vouchers for public transit or ride sharing services. It may also be worth investing in community ride-sharing programs.

3. Hospitals and health systems must also serve as advocates for patients. This could be as simple as working to change transportation infrastructure in the community.

To read more, click here.

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