Screening for social problems now an integral part of providing good medical care

Addressing social determinants of health is being recognized as an integral part of providing good medical care. To improve patient care, the health world is turning its attention to screening tools to unearth issues like loneliness and food insecurity.

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Clinics that are a part of the Metro Community Provider Network that serves the Denver area, use a screening tool designed to identify aspects of patients’ lives that often aren’t discussed during routine doctor visits. But these aspects significantly influence their health.

Collectively known as the social determinants of health they include things like housing, food security, education and literacy, and social interactions. Considering these aspects curb the country’s skyrocketing health care costs. Providers that receive federal funding and focus on treating vulnerable and low-income communities – like Metro Community Provider Network- are known as community health centers and are at the forefront of this shift.

Ron Yee, chief medical officer for the nonprofit National Association of Community Health Centers believes it is difficult to provide high quality care unless one understands the patients and the challenges they face. Until you understand that there’s mold growing on the wall or in the bathroom in a patient’s home, pediatric asthma cannot be controlled.