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Social Determinants of Health – Why Public Health in the US Seems Predetermined 

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When it comes to achieving good health, where you live can be just as important as how you live. Increasingly in the US, health officials are understanding that the social and economic conditions in a person’s environment – also known as social determinants of health – play a profound role in a person’s well-being. 

In other words, your access to safe and affordable housing, education, and public safety can be just as important as your access to healthy foods, quality medical care and environments free from toxins. Unfortunately, the lower someone’s socioeconomic status is, the higher their risk for health problems simply because their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter and safety aren’t being met.

Studies show over 80% of health crises are not health issues, but rather a result of one’s environment. 

Food deserts have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years. It’s easy to understand that if someone eats mostly fast food or highly processed foods from convenience stores because of a lack of healthy choices in their neighbourhood, they’re at a much higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

But other factors, such as high violence in a neighbourhood or personal trauma from abuse or neglect, can produce ongoing toxic stress levels that further exacerbate health problems and morbidity. Therefore, efforts to enhance the quality of life can improve outcomes as well as health equity.

This holistic approach will require a much broader definition of healthcare and will require community partnerships between social services and hospitals, doctors and medical clinics. Early intervention is critical. That is why a care coordination system such as C3S is so important.

Through a case management system, C3S can help social workers and health care providers gather relevant patient information and more easily see the full picture. It’s easy to treat the cough, it’s more difficult to know that a smoker at home is inhibiting a patient’s progress. 

Understanding the full story

The intake questionnaire includes carefully worded questions and AI analytics, which can determine if someone is suffering some type of abuse, is food insecure or doesn’t have safe housing options. The questions are also customisable, allowing organisations to ask about specific needs they can treat.

Once a doctor knows his or her patient is battling homelessness, they can refer that patient to a local shelter. Referrals take seconds within the C3S dashboard, which allows anyone to search for a service by keyword, see all local results, and make referrals. 

Accountability, transparency, simplicity

No matter who makes the referral, a hospital’s social worker can easily take over and monitor the process. All actions are displayed on the C3S dashboard, including the initial referral, the nonprofit’s response, and any actions taken by the patient. The person’s data is securely sent via a HIPAA compliant feature, so they don’t have to tell their story multiple times. C3S’ integration with electronic medical records (EMR) helps further paint the picture of a person’s history.

The biggest advantage of care manager software like C3S is better communication. Communicating with clients or partners should be as easy as texting a friend. The more touchpoints a person has to help, the higher their social capital. Social workers can send individual or group SMS texts through the C3S platform, as well as email or instant messaging. 

Health equity

All Americans deserve an equal opportunity to find the help they need to improve their health. To ensure that opportunity, better partnerships are needed between social services and medical providers, and we must close the communication gap between patient and provider. C3S leverages technology to break down geographical and socioeconomic barriers, allowing every American access to a path out of poverty and toward better health.


Image credit: Freepik

James Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.

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