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Addressing Social Determinants to Improve Patient Care

Ann Intern Med; ePub 2018 Apr 17; Daniel, et al

Understanding and addressing social factors that affect health outcomes can improve care and promote health equity, according to a new position paper from the American College of Physicians (ACP). The paper was drafted by the Health and Public Policy Committee of the ACP, and offers the following policy recommendations:

  • ACP supports increased efforts to evaluate and implement public policy interventions with the goal of reducing socioeconomic inequalities that have a negative impact on health.
  • ACP recommends that social determinants of health and the underlying individual, community, and systemic issues related to health inequities be integrated into medical education at all levels.
  • ACP supports increased interprofessional communication and collaborative models that encourage a team-based approach to treating patients at risk to be negatively affected by social determinants of health.
  • ACP supports the adequate and efficient funding of federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in their efforts to address social determinants of health.
  • ACP supports increased research into the causes, effects, prevention, and dissemination of information about social determinants of health.
  • ACP recommends policymakers adopt a “health in all policies” approach and supports the integration of health considerations into community planning decisions through the use of health impact assessments.
  • ACP recommends development of best practices for utilizing electronic health record (EHR) systems as a tool to improve individual and population health without adding to the administrative burden on physicians.
  • ACP recommends adjusting quality payment models and performance measurement assessments to reflect the increased risk associated with caring for disadvantaged patient populations.
  • ACP recommends increased screening and collection of social determinants of health data to aid in health impact assessments and support evidence-driven decision making.

Citation:

Daniel H, Bornstein SS, Kane GC, for the Health and Public Policy Committee of the American College of Physicians. Addressing social determinants to improve patient care and promote health equity: An American College of Physicians position paper. [Published online ahead of print April 17, 2018]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M17-2441.

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