The case for intervening upstream

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Solving social determinants of health is good for patients, and for business too. Critical services like housing and access to healthy food are key to helping people get and stay healthy - resulting in lower medical costs over time. Organizations who intervene upstream to improve conditions in the places where people live, work and play can benefit from reduced expenses, more stable revenue, and improved brand and reputation.

Why social determinants of health are so important

Clinical care is responsible for just 20% of an average individual’s health. The other 80% is driven by health behaviors, physical environment, and social and economic factors. To help people get and stay healthy, we need to meet their basic needs--things like secure housing, access to healthy food, clean air, and safe neighborhoods.

The need for upstream interventions

Solving social determinants of health requires upstream interventions that improve conditions in the places where people live, work and play. This includes a combination of preventive medicine, patient social needs support, and community interventions. The key to successfully addressing social determinants of health is to bring together a set of upstream interventions that span this continuum and are tailored to the specific needs of the local population.

The business case for social determinants of health

While the moral imperative is clear, the business imperative is also compelling, since many upstream interventions can materially reduce downstream medical costs. Upstream interventions can also help grow or stabilize revenue, build brand and reputation, and engage staff. To build a profitable approach to managing social determinants of health, organizations should start by building a solid business case, then determine how and where to intervene and amp up impact by integrating these ideas across the organization.

Contact us

Mike Cohen

Principal, Health Industries, PwC US

Clinton Moloney

US Sustainability Advisory Leader, PwC US

Ginger L Pilgrim

Principal, PwC US

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