Health Equity

Examining How the Drivers of Health Affect the Nation’s Physicians and their Patients (2022)

Physicians have long experienced the impact of the social drivers of health (SDOH). They recognize that the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age have a major influence on patient health and the cost of health care in America. This includes factors like food insecurity, housing instability, transportation problems, utilities difficulties and interpersonal safety.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these factors, such as access to healthy food, safe housing and other social drivers of health, drove 70% of health outcomes. Now, patients, who are returning to physicians’ offices and hospitals for routine checkups, deferred elective procedures, prescription refills and more, are presenting with conditions made worse by lost jobs and the struggle to afford food, transportation or rent.

Physicians know that reducing total cost of care and achieving health equity are only achievable by addressing SDOH. Despite the well-documented impact of SDOH on health outcomes and costs of care, our current health care system does not operate in a way that includes addressing them. Therefore, to assess how SDOH affect physicians and their patients, The Physicians Foundation determined to conduct the first part of its 2022 Survey of America’s Physicians on this topic.