By: Laura Summers
Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.
The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute recently hosted a Newsmaker Breakfast where several of Utah’s health care leaders discussed the critical health issues facing Utahns today, what’s being done to address them, and how best to prepare for our state’s future health care needs—particularly as our population continues to change and grow.
It was a great conversation and one of the things that struck me after was that “non-traditional” health issues, such as behavioral health, a person’s wellbeing, and the importance of addressing the social determinants of health (a person’s social and physical environment, behaviors, and economic stability) were mentioned almost as frequently as, if not more than, “traditional” health care issues.
These issues weren’t treated separately from the discussion, or as a side note, but were embedded as naturally in a health care discussion as you might imagine diabetes care or cancer treatment would be. The concept of addressing a person’s social determinants of health to improve their health outcomes started to be talked about more widely in the early 2000s and our recent Newsmaker Breakfast indicated to me that the concept is becoming more mainstream and understood, not only by the health care industry, but also by the broader community.
Figure 1: Social Determinants of Health