The Cost of a Healthy Life
The American Hospital Association reports socioeconomic factors are responsible for approximately 40% of a patient’s health outcomes. Inequities in patient populations better known as social determinants of health can have a significant impact on a payer’s bottom line.
What Are Social Determinants of Health?
Social determinants of health include but are not limited to accessibility to healthy food, transportation, and housing. Consider for example, people who live in heavily polluted communities where emergency room utilization rates are higher for people with asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases. The incidence of certain cancers, heart attacks and strokes is also higher in areas with poor air quality.
People living in food deserts or low-income urban areas where access to affordable and healthy food is limited, often experience higher rates of chronic illness including heart disease and diabetes. New research also suggests a correlation between food insecurity and poor mental health outcomes.
Focusing on Practical, Cost Saving Solutions
Shifting focus to prevention is not only good for patients but also the bottom line. Take for example the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma. This partnership program involving managed care organizations effectively decreased children’s asthma symptoms and emergency department utilization rates by leveraging strategic policies, community education initiatives, and improved care in schools.
Prevention is good business. A recent study found that organizations that connect patients to social service support could reduce spending by approximately 11% within one year.
The Health Care Cost and Utilization Project confirmed that addressing food insecurity can dramatically reduce hospital costs. Malnourished patients face longer hospital stays and higher readmission rates costing payers almost double that of patients not facing chronic food instability.
Community health workers (promotoras), rideshare services, nutrition programs, along with social service hotlines are all smart investments for payers seeking to reduce their bottom line.
A Partner You Can Trust
TOG Network Solutions takes a holistic approach to building provider networks. Factoring in social determinants of health is one area where TOG Network Solutions can guide payers to make strategic cost saving investments. Consider us a resource if you would like to learn more about how the social determinants of health may impact your provider and patient network.