Addressing Health-Related Social Needs

Physicians have long experienced the impact of social and environmental conditions, known as social drivers of health (SDOH), on patient health, care outcomes, costs, physician burden and the physician-patient relationship. Indeed, in The Physicians Foundation’s 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians, 73% of physicians indicate that SDOH, such as access to healthy food and safe housing will drive demand of healthcare services in 2021.

Almost 90% of physicians said their patients had a serious health problem linked to poverty or other social conditions.

For more than a decade – and long before most stakeholders in the health care system – The Physicians Foundation has been on the vanguard of recognizing and acting on these challenges.

The Foundation collaborated with Health Leads to develop and implement the first-ever system to help enable physicians to screen their patients and automatically connect or refer them with the basic resources they need to be healthy.

The Foundation supported the publication of a book by Richard (Buz) Cooper, MD, Poverty and the Myths of Health Care Reform. The book argued that poverty, rather than overutilization, waste and physician inefficiency, are the drivers of runaway health care costs.

Today, through the Foundation’s collaboration with The Health Initiative, the North Carolina Medical Society, the Texas Medical Association and the Medical Society of the State of New York are addressing the impact of poverty on health outcomes and costs by focusing on payment and delivery system reform, and physician burnout.

Explore Our Work to Address Social Factors and Improve Health Outcomes