Sep 19, 2019

Providers aren't screening for social determinants of health

Most providers aren't asking their patients about all 5 key social needs that are associated with health outcomes, according to a new study in JAMA Network Open.

Why it matters: "Social needs ... are linked to health outcomes. Identifying patients with unmet social needs is a necessary first step to addressing these needs," the authors write.

  • As they note, as much as 90% of a patient's health outcomes are a result of social, behavioral and economic factors — not medical care.
  • Only 24% of hospitals and 16% of physician practices screened for food insecurity, housing instability, utility needs, transportation needs and interpersonal violence.
  • Some of these needs were screened for more often than others, and most providers screen for at least 1 need.

Go deeper: States are using Medicaid to target social needs

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Hospitals are getting into the housing business

Hospitals have discovered that it's not only better for patients' health if they have somewhere to live, but it's also often cheaper for the hospital to provide housing than a long inpatient stay, USA Today reports with Kaiser Health News.

The big picture: Hospitals across the country are looking at ways to address homelessness, including building their own housing units.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

The state of play in Germany's health care system

Photo: Bernd Wüstneck/picture alliance/Getty Images

In Germany's health care system, even universal coverage paired with low out-of-pocket costs hasn't led to equitable health outcomes among rich and poor people, NPR reports with Kaiser Health News.

Why it matters: Medical care is only one component of a person's health. Social determinants of health are hugely important and factor strongly into a population's well-being. "Universal health care, in and of itself, may be a first step toward increasing a community's health, but it isn't a magical solution," writes KHN's Shefali Luthra.

Go deeper: What the U.S. can learn from Germany on drug prices

Keep ReadingArrowOct 17, 2019

Four health care questions for a better Democratic debate

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

If tonight’s Democratic debate is anything like the earlier ones, it will feature an extended back-and-forth about whether to eliminate private health insurance, and then move on from health care. But there’s a whole lot more that’s also worth asking about.

The big picture: We basically know what the candidates will say about the question of private insurance, because they’ve said it all before. So here are four other questions that might also help illuminate the choice voters face on such a deeply personal, wildly complex topic.

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019