How Children’s Hospitals Can Make an Impact on the Social Determinants of Health
An emerging body of medical research shows that environment can determine health, especially in kids. Children’s HealthWatch reported in 2017 that unstable housing among families with children will cost the U.S. $111 billion in avoidable health and education expenditures over the next 10 years. The rise of research, and incentives from the Affordable Care Act, have spurred providers to make investments in their neighborhoods to “treat” some of these social determinants. Examples include fixing up houses in their local neighborhoods, referring patients facing food insecurity to resources, writing “prescriptions” for a subsidy on fruits and vegetables, implementing strategies to fight the effects of stress and loneliness, and partnering up with community groups. But addressing social determinants still faces challenges. Not all insurance companies will cover non-health related treatments and new screening procedures can be daunting for physicians already with long to-do lists.