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Addressing Social Determinants and Their Impact on Healthcare

Mar 07, 2014

In September 2012, the New York City Board of Health approved a measure to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and street carts in a first of its kind restriction in the US. At the forefront of this measure was Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As pointed out by the Mayor, about 6,000 New Yorkers die every year from obesity-related illness. Some ethnic groups in the city have rates of overweight and obesity approaching 70 percent of adults. African-American New Yorkers are three times as likely, and Hispanic New Yorkers twice as likely, as white New Yorkers to die from diabetes1. Was this social policy run amuck? Was it, as some have suggested, an infringement on individual rights? Or was it recognition that health issues cannot be treated in isolation from the many other factors that affect an individual’s or a community’s health and wellbeing?

This executive overview paper examines the many factors that are driving change in the healthcare industry.2 It covers the social determinants of health and introduces a smarter approach to care that enables healthcare providers to personalize programs, services and treatments based on a holistic view of the individual and the individual’s family. By intervening proactively to address the social determinants of health and with this smarter approach to care, the costs of healthcare can be curtailed or even reduced.