January 24, 2018

CT hospitals launch test project on social determinants of health

Four Connecticut hospitals have begun testing ways to find out if patients are in need of housing, employment, food insecurity and transportation – factors that are not traditionally part of medical care but have significant impact on health – and refer them to appropriate resources.

The screening and referral work will be conducted at MidState Medical Center and Bristol, Day Kimball and St. Mary's hospitals as part of a Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) initiative to identify ways to address the social determinants of health for patients. The Connecticut Social Health Initiative project is funded by $100,000 grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation.

Patients will be asked about housing, employment, food and transportation issues, answering questions that include, Do you have a place to live today? And In the past year, what did you or your family go without (food/heat/water/lights/medications)?

The project, running through March, aims to survey hundreds of patients, according to the CHA.

"We know that housing, transportation, food security, and other social factors have a big influence on patients' health outcomes, so it's important that identifying these needs become part of medical care," said Tiffany Donelson, vice president of program at the Connecticut Health Foundation. "By testing different approaches to identifying these needs in health care settings, Connecticut hospitals will be able to determine what models are most effective and how to best incorporate them into their care."

The information gathered will be used to determine the most effective approach to identify patient needs and connect patients to services, as well as the feasibility of applying the approach more broadly.

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