“Value” is the watchword in health care these days, but lately I’ve been unable to shake the feeling that it leaves something missing. What we’re missing, as a recent article on the power of the physician-patient relationship put it, is meaning.
Don’t get me wrong. The transition from volume to value, clunky and complicated as it is, is long overdue. It’s created exciting opportunities to demonstrate how an understanding of social determinants of health can lead to a better standard of care.
But if we gauge our success only by current metrics of costs, utilization, and return on investment, we will lose the opportunity to build a model of medicine that means even more.
The purpose of screening for social needs is not just to inform our care models and add value to the healthcare bottom line. It is fundamentally about understanding the person in front of us, their family and community. It is about seeing what brings them meaning.
Those of us who give care need meaning just as much as those who receive it. The daily churn of charting and procedures does not feed our essential need to connect with others and know them well enough to touch their lives. Understanding their social context and having time to make a more personal difference does. (And it may even, in the long run, save money).
This month, we’re proud of the trainings and workshops that show how addressing social determinants can improve value while restoring a sense of meaning:
- In Minnesota, we worked with Allina Health to bring their Whole Person Care approach to the frontlines through workshops aimed at uncovering the ways we can better understand and connect with each other.
- With the Connecticut Hospital Association we provided hands-on workshops that helped member hospitals learn how to create meaningful impact on social determinants through effective clinical-community partnerships.
- Our webinar series on optimizing community health investments launched in May and continues in June. Stay tuned for details on the next event.
- On June 5, I’m honored to be giving the Luther Terry keynote at a meeting of the Commissioned Officers of the U.S. Public Health Service, led by the Surgeon General. Luther Terry, the 9th U.S. Surgeon General, was the first to call out tobacco as a pressing public health concern and helped shape our understanding of social and political determinants of health.
At HealthBegins, we’re pursuing the vision of value and meaning with renewed vigor. We’ll get there with you, together.