This Problem is Going to Get Worse

Saba Lodhi, MD | Washington State

Why now more than ever, is it critical to address patients’ social determinants of health? So, I truly believe that the most valuable contribution COVID-19 has made toward society, if there is any, is highlighting the disparity in the delivery of health care in our country – which is based on patient’s social determinants of health.

Higher morbidity and mortality were observed in our Hispanic and African American populations all across the United States, and our experience was no different as we saw a similar pattern firsthand. This is not really news to us, right? If you look at history, history is full of examples of pandemics disproportionately impacting populations that are afflicted by poverty and are disadvantaged. Whether it’s overcrowded housing, lack of education, or lack of access to healthcare. These factors ultimately make it difficult, if not impossible, for these populations to practice safe social distancing and have led to significant, continued viral transmission within the populations.

I think this problem is going to get worse. We are going to see the downstream effects of the economic down fall that the virus is bringing to the country. If we do not anticipate and do something to mitigate what is bound to be a significant widening of this gap, we are going to lose any ground we have gained in trying to control the virus today. And that is why now more than ever it is critical to address the disparities in patients’ social determinants of health.

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