Social needs emphasized in recommendations
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, contains overarching goals and associated recommendations that health care systems, government agencies, and others should implement to better integrate patients’ social needs into health care delivery.
Two trends are driving a need to integrate social care with health care, the report says. Firstly, the health care system is moving toward paying care providers based on health outcomes, rather than for individual visits or services. Secondly, there is increasing recognition that addressing the social determinants of health — nonmedical factors such as housing, education, neighborhood safety, and employment — has a profound impact on one’s physical and mental health.
“Even if people get the best medical care available to them, they may still have poor health outcomes if other social needs such as housing, reliable transportation, or a strong support system at home are not addressed,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a general internist and vice dean for population health and health equity at the University of California, San Francisco, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “Integrating social care into health care delivery can be transformative for addressing the individual needs of patients and the collective needs of communities. However, we need the workforce, financing, and infrastructure to do this effectively.”
The report recommends the following steps.
Better integrate social care into health care delivery.
Support and train an engaged, integrated care workforce.
Develop an infrastructure for data sharing between health and social care.
Finance the integration of health care and social care.
In addition, the report says, there are few formal evaluations of the effectiveness of integrating social care needs into health care delivery.