Social determinants became mainstream in 2018 and the trend will continue

The healthcare system has not addressed the factors of social determinants of health and wellbeing for a long time but, it started  to wake up in 2018. Newly launched initiatives and studies reinforcing the need for such initiatives, made 2018 social determinants’ biggest year yet.

Kaiser Permanente launched a $200 million initiative to improve access to affordable housing.

Due to lack of reliable transportation, many patients with health needs forego care or miss their appointments. Missed appointments are also a major drain on the healthcare system financially. Rideshare company Uber launched a “health dashboard” this year for patients to request and plan free rides, which is accessible online, by text messages and via landline for patients who don’t own a smartphone.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found Geisinger Health System’s “Fresh Food Farmacy” cut costs among diabetic patients between $48,000 and $240,000 per member. The risk of death or serious complications among these patients dropped by 40%.

Cigna said it would start offering group members financial planning services.

All these efforts take us towards a healthier America, but equity doesn’t exist yet and there are miles left to go.