Sam’s lack of social support, inflexible employers, pain, fatigue and lack of affordable services makes it hard for him to keep his chronic conditions under control.
Claire’s anxiety, inconsistent support, lack of affordable medicines, and lack of between-visit care has made it difficult to maintain her health.
Dorothy experiences inadequately trained caregivers, loneliness, depression, aches, pains, mental decline and poor care team collaboration while not wanting to overburden her family.
Sam, Claire and Dorothy are three of the 44 patients who participated in one-on-one listening sessions to help understand what clinical and cost data cannot—firsthand insights into the health system and a person’s life affect their health care experiences. The Commonwealth Fund survey was to understand patients’ goals, motivations, & barriers to health.
Commonwealth Fund, U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, and Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling have each emphasized this month that we can’t just focus on health care treatments while ignoring the social determinants of health.
“We are at the leading edge to transform healthcare in our country,” Dr. Murthy said at the Root Cause Coalition’s First Annual National Summit on the Social Determinants of Health in Chicago. “But we won’t fulfill our potential if we are only pouring our money into the healing aspect of health care. We must move upstream and fully address the factors that drive health.”
Michael Dowling writes that we need more focus on social determinants of health. “Every organization that is serious about reform must figure out how to deliver medical care to individuals, families and communities while addressing the social determinants of health that affect our day-to-lives, such as affordable housing, job security, education, emotional well-being and access to affordable, healthy food. Healthcare organizations predominantly focus on the medical care side of the healthcare business, but the greatest influences on our health come from life circumstances and personal behavior”.
We will need to listen to the Sam’s, Claire’s and Dorthy’s and build a framework to address the social determinants that adversely impact health outcomes. Here is more on the determinants of health.