HHS reveals strategy on social determinants of health

HHS has developed three strategy areas to address social determinants of health, focusing on data, improved connections between health and social services and a whole-government approach, according to a March 31 article published on JAMA Network.

The article, written by Nancy DeLew, HHS' associate deputy assistant secretary and Benjamin Sommers, MD, PhD, the deputy assistant secretary outlines the three approaches:

  1. HHS wants to fix the issue of the lack of data collection on important social and economic factors that affect health, as well as the issue of interconnectivity of the data across platforms. It is expanding its data collection and databases to include more robust measures including food insecurity and financial strain as well as expanding interoperability measures. 

  2. It also wants to ensure that both social services and health services are accessible and well-funded and allow for cross communication. It is looking into the use of alternative payment models that would encourage medical professionals to further refer patients who need specialized help for social issues. 

  3. Given that social determinants of health touch on a plethora of categories, HHS has begun creating partnerships with different federal agencies including the Agriculture  Department, the Transportation Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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