Connecting Public Health and Primary Care to Address Social Determinants of Health
// By Jane Weber Brubaker //
A 2011 survey conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) found that 85 percent of physicians believe unmet social needs lead to worse health for all Americans. Yet only 20 percent of physicians feel confident or very confident in their ability to address social determinants of health that impact their patients’ health and well-being.
RWJF notes, “Social factors such as inadequate housing, employment, access to food, and other neighborhood deficiencies [are linked to] more frequent emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and overall poorer health, which strains the healthcare system.”
As provider organizations move toward population health and shift from treatment of disease to prevention, addressing the gap between the doctor’s office and the community is becoming a business imperative. To bridge the gap, several groundbreaking programs are helping physicians and community groups forge stronger connections and leverage their respective strengths to improve population health.
Dan Dunlop, principal at Jennings, and Kate Gillmer, Jennings’ digital engagement specialist, shared in their April presentation at HITMC, “Content Marketing and Collaboration Strategies to Support Population Health Initiatives,” how several forward-thinking organizations use content marketing to inspire community-wide partnerships to address persistent issues at the root of poor health.
“Some of our hospitals today haven’t grasped the fact that we need to be in the health business and not just the healthcare business,” Dunlop says. “Where that change is ultimately going to happen is beyond the walls of the hospital in partnership with community organizations.”