Health providers monitoring the impact of housing & unemployment on health.
As we are in the midst of the holiday season, many people look for opportunities to donate and help people within their community. But what if we looked beyond the holiday season, and beyond charity, to improve people’s lives?
Increasingly, governments, health providers, and insurance companies are looking at ways to improve what is called the social determinants of health (SDOH) – the areas of people’s lives that can indirectly affect their health such as housing, unemployment, social supports, food, and transportation.
It only makes sense. After all, asking a person to focus on taking care of their health when they are homeless or facing food insecurity isn’t very practical.
Experiments such as housing first initiatives are being used in both the U.S. and Canada to discover if addressing some of these basic needs can help improve people’s overall health and save valuable healthcare dollars at the same time.
A Georgetown University report suggests that in the U.S., Medicaid could play a key leadership role to tackle the social, economic, and environmental conditions that affect health. Adding optional Medicaid benefits, integrating data systems, and incorporating SDOH in screening and care delivery were recommended to help reduce disparities. Nevertheless, federal and state governments need to invest in social safety net programs, according to the brief.
However, private payers are taking part as well. Humana launched a program focused on addressing the social determinants of health by supporting community organizations tackling problems running the gamut from social isolation to access to healthy food with $7 million in grants.
A Kaiser Family Foundation brief contends that although there has been progress recognizing and addressing social determinants of health, many challenges remain. These will require working across siloed sectors with separate funding streams, where investments in one sector may accrue savings in another. Moreover, communities may not always have the service capacity or supply to meet identified needs.
Although there are many questions still to answer, including how to best capture information and data, finding new and innovative ways to improve people’s health by improving their overall lives, and for the long term can only benefit those currently needing support. But addressing these needs will benefit society, as programs allow those in need with the holistic support needed to help them improve their lives.
Staying well-informed of trends such as social determinants of health or leveraging data for healthcare is vital in the competitive landscape. The healthcare industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and leading players in the market are reinforcing their position with innovative approaches in anticipating these trends.
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This article was originally published on ShiftCentral, now part of LAC Group.