Health Healthcare System

Integrating Health Care and Social Services: Moving from Concept to Practice

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Efforts to improve health care that typically stop at hospital, physician, or health plan responsibilities miss opportunities to make significant improvements in both individual and population health. Growing recognition of the role that social factors play in the health status of individuals has heightened attention to the connection between health and social services, particularly for vulnerable populations. Social determinants of health (SDOH) may include factors such as an individual’s economic stability, housing, education, relationships, neighborhood, and other environmental influences. Today, more state health care purchasers, health plans, and health care providers are seeking to establish strong partnerships with social service agencies in a concerted effort to integrate and enhance service delivery, reduce costs, and improve individual and population health. This brief examines practical approaches that state agencies might employ to better integrate social services and health care delivery.


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