A new study from Dartmouth published in JAMA Network Open, finds that most U.S. physician practices and hospitals report screening patients for at least one social need, a trend that is expected to increase in the future, and that practices that care for disadvantaged patients report higher screening rates.
In recent years, the link between patients’ social needs, health outcomes, and costs has become increasingly recognized and advocated for by stakeholders across the nation’s medical communities. But little has been known about the extent to which these screenings have been incorporated into patient care.
To help make this determination, researchers conducted a cross-sectional study using national survey data to assess the prevalence of screening among physician practices and hospitals for five social needs prioritized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid — food insecurity, housing instability, utility and transportation needs, and experience with interpersonal violence.
Responses from 2,190 physician practices and 739 hospitals were collected between June 2017 to August 2018. As part of the study, the researchers examined how screening efforts varied by organizational characteristics, including participation in reform efforts. They also identified major barriers to linking medical and social care that were reported by physicians and hospitals.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 04