Massachusetts Medical Society: Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health

Social Dtrmnts


THE ISSUE:

Health involves much more than medical care. While preventative care and physician access are directly important to health, social and economic barriers to care should be considered as well. Available resources, community supports, school quality, home conditions, employment opportunities, air and water quality, and safety impact health greatly – and can explain why some are healthier than others. These non-medical factors may impact overall health risk profiles, physical activity opportunities, and access to healthy food.

Understanding these social determinants of health involves analyzing systemic inequities across the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health groups social determinants of health into six areas: Built Environment, Education, Employment, Housing, Violence, and Social Environment. While the scope of addressing social determinants of health remains daunting, this area is full of opportunities to increase overall population health. Physicians should be on the forefront of addressing health in a more comprehensive manner.

OUR STANCE:

The Massachusetts Medical Society acknowledges that social determinants of health play a key role in health outcome and health disparities, and that addressing the social determinants of health for patients and communities is critical to the health of our patients, our communities, and a sustainable, effective health care system. The MMS will:

  • Advocate for policies aimed at improving social determinants of health for all people
  • Work with physicians, health systems, and payers to develop sustainable, innovative care delivery and payment models to improve social determinants of health for all patients

The MMS believes the Commonwealth should emphasize the importance of social determinants of heath on health care access, outcomes, and cost. Specific areas of focus should include:

  • Flexible funding to address health-related social needs
  • Inclusion of social determinants in payment policies and performance measurement and
  • Research and evaluation of innovative interventions and policies to build the evidence base

CURRENT ADVOCACY:

The MMS is committed to identifying and reducing barriers to health and wellness borne of social determinants for people and patients of all ages, races, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic conditions.

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