At Forbes Healthcare Summit yesterday, Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, shared the story of a patient who kept going to the ER. But after he enrolled for the “Total Health Roadmap,” a program where patients are cared for by social workers, health coaches, and nurse practitioners. He received a home visit and was found to have a broken refrigerator and no access to healthy food. A new refrigerator was installed by the community and ultimately the expensive emergency room visits ended. According to Dr Stephen Klasko, M.D., M.B.A., the social determinants of health may be more important than they are considered. Dr Klasko also interviewed four healthcare leaders about their solutions to improving the social determinants of health, i.e., the barriers to overall good health that are due to social factors.

Jean C. Accius, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of AARP offered various solutions to improve the social conditions in order to acquire comprehensive good health for his community. Among these solutions, the notable one was that ARP has donated $1.6 million to community projects such as renovating housing. They’re also building what they call “AARP-sponsored fitness parks’ and will have 15 parks opened by the end of this year. In honor of AARP’s 60th anniversary, they plan to have one in every state by the end of 2021. Jean believes that the first concrete step towards achieving the target is to invest in the community.

For Carina Edwards, CEO of Quil, a joint venture between Independence Health Group and Comcast NBCUniversal, the challenge is how to engage individuals in their healthcare and wellness- which is difficult when patients have limited access to both quality healthcare and even broadband internet.Technology is increasingly being used to improve health, including genomics, telehealth, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. But nothing can be done unless people have internet access. So Comcast delivers internet access to 8 million people for < $10 a month through their Internet Essentials program. They’re hoping that helping patients engage in their healthcare- through education and health tracking- will ultimately help them make healthier choices.

Jaewon Ryu, M.D., J.D., Geisinger’s President and Chief Executive Officer, reported that after Geisinger launched “Fresh Food Pharmacies,” nearly 10,000 meals per week were provided to program participants. Their team has also developed a ‘Geisinger at Home’ system where home care services are provided to the sick and elderly patients. Such practical solutions have resulted in changes in the health problems (such as diabetes) of their patients, emergency room visits, and hospitalisations, thus leading to greater participation of patients and families.

For Dr. Klasko the overall goal is to ‘move away from a sick care system towards a well based system.’