News: Healthcare systems making sizeable investments in SDOH, study shows

CDI Strategies - Volume 14, Issue 7

Healthcare systems are beginning to make notable investments in community programs to address social determinants of health (SDOH), according to a recent study by Health Affairs.

For the study, Health Affairs searched for all public announcements of programs involving direct financial investments in SDOH by US health systems from January 2017 to the end of November 2019.

“To identify health system characteristics, we linked each health system or hospital to the 2016 Compendium of U.S. Health Systems of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ),” said Health Affairs. “These health systems include 3,513 of the 4,749 nonfederal acute care hospitals in the US.”

Results found that 57 of the 626 health systems (9.1%) made specific commitments to SDOH programs. Overall, there were 78 unique programs within the 57 health systems, collectively included in 917 hospitals. The programs involved at least $2.5 billion of health system funds. $1.6 billion of this in 52 programs was specifically committed to housing-focused interventions. Additional focus areas were:

  • Employment; 28 programs with $1.1 billion
  • Education; 14 programs with $476.4 million
  • Food security; 25 programs with $294.2 million
  • Social and community context; 13 programs with $253.1 million
  • Transportation; six programs with $32 million

"Health systems are beginning to appoint directors of social determinants, health equity, and population health and are increasingly adopting patient-level screening for social determinants.” according to Health Affairs. “Evidence is accumulating that investments in this area can have positive effects on morbidity and mortality."

Editor’s note: This study was originally published by Health Affairs. Additional ACDIS articles on SDOH can be found here and here.

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