Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health

The National Alliance to Impact the Social Determinants of Health (NASDOH), an alliance managed by Leavitt Partners and focused on assessing and addressing current regulatory frameworks, funding environments and opportunities, and practical challenges to implementing and sustaining social determinants of health efforts, was cited in a new consensus study report released by the National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine. More details are provided below.

Health care systems are paying increased attention to social factors, such as access to stable housing, reliable transportation, and nutritious food. These upstream social conditions help shape people’s health because they affect both the delivery and the outcomes of health care. It is therefore critical to take them into account to improve both primary prevention and the treatment of acute and chronic illness.

To begin answering such questions, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assembled an expert committee to examine the potential for integrating social care services into the delivery of health care with the ultimate goal of achieving better and more equitable health outcomes.

The resulting report, Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health, identifies and assesses current and emerging approaches and recommends ways to expand and optimize social care in the health care setting.

Five complimentary activities can facilitate the integration of social care into health care: awareness, adjustment, assistance, alignment, and advocacy. While all of the activities will ultimately benefit patients, adjustment and assistance focus on improving care delivery provided specifically to individual patients based on information about their social needs. Alignment and advocacy relate to roles that the health care sector can play in influencing and investing in social care resources at the community level. All of these delivery and community-level activities are informed by efforts that increase awareness of individual or community-level social needs in a health care system’s geographic region or for its served population.

The report also provides recommendations in three key areas necessary for successful integration: an appropriately staffed and trained workforce, health information technology innovations, and new financing models.

You can read more and access the report here.