This post originally appeared on the John Snow, Inc., blog, The Pump.
At JSI, we’ve been closely observing the shifting health care landscape and identifying promising practices and frameworks for achieving the Triple Aim (reduced per capita cost, improved experience of care, and improved population health) and whole-person care. One of the most interesting dialogues underway is how to better understand and respond to social determinants of health (SDOH). The evidence keeps growing indicating that factors outside the clinic walls such as educational opportunity and community environments play a more significant role in determining health outcomes than factors such as access to care and genetics. This has led many to contend that zip code says more about health prospects than genetic code.
From a health system perspective, there is recognition that many of the highest cost patients would be better served, and cost less, if social and clinical needs were addressed in concert. From a clinician’s perspective, there is a hunger for new approaches and tools to address circumstances outside the clinic walls that are causing and exacerbating chronic illnesses. A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded survey found that the vast majority of physicians not only see social needs as just as important to address as medical conditions but wish they could write prescriptions to address those needs.