Investing in social services as a core strategy for healthcare organizations: Developing the business case
The impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) as drivers of medical utilization, cost, and health outcomes is both widely researched and acknowledged. This growing body of evidence attributes as much as 40 percent of health outcomes to SDOH such as housing, education, poverty, and nutrition and that as much as a third of the deaths in the United States can be accounted for by social factors. The influence of SDOH is particularly pronounced in vulnerable high-need, high-cost (HNHC) populations with single to multiple functional limitations.
Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the importance of addressing SDOH to improve outcomes and lower medical costs, observed investments tend to be modest in scale and temporary, often funded through time-limited grants or launched as pilots without a long-term strategy. Few healthcare organizations have incorporated the services that target SDOH directly into their ongoing business operations without any requirement of ongoing outside financial support.
In response to these observations and as part of their ongoing mission to support the promotion of accessible, high-value, and affordable care for HNHC populations, The Commonwealth Fund worked with KPMG LLP (KPMG) to explore the current landscape of investments targeting SDOH as well as approaches to accelerate the uptake of SDOH investments into healthcare business operations.
van Beek, E, Eckel, D, & Taylor, A. Investing in Social Services as a Core Strategy for Healthcare Organizations: Developing the Business Case. KPMG Government Institute; 2018. Available online.