Boosting Health Equity: Physicians Foundation Intensifies Actions

Many doctors feel frustrated by the limited time they get to spend with their patients, which can affect their assessment of social factors that could impact patient health. To address this challenge, the Physicians Foundation is working to help doctors identify and address the social determinants of health. A recent survey found that 6 in 10 physicians spent little to no time working on these factors.

The ‘Take Five’ Doctors Foundation has launched a campaign called “He Picks Five To Address The Drivers Of Health” to provide resources for physicians to start conversations with patients about social determinants of health and integrate patient screening into their clinical workflow. The campaign includes conversation starters and tips on how to conduct conversations in a respectful and meaningful way, emphasizing the importance of maintaining eye contact and building rapport with the patient.

In addition to assessing social determinants, physicians can guide patients to obtain help, including referral to support agencies. The Physicians Foundation is also funding a grant program for state medical associations to help physicians screen for social determinants of health and identify practical solutions for addressing them.

CMS has adopted measures to require hospitals to report on social determinants of health screenings as part of the 2023 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospects Payment System rule. The Physicians Foundation played a key role in developing new guidelines from CMS for evaluating social determinants of health. The foundation believes that collaboration between healthcare institutions, hospital systems, communities, community resources, and health finance institutions is necessary to address social determinants of health and improve health equity.

Despite the challenges, Gary Price, president of the Physicians Foundation, is optimistic about the growing awareness of investing more in addressing social factors that affect health and possibly closing health inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of addressing social determinants of health, and Price believes there is a justifiable return on investment in solving these health-enhancing problems.

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