By Beth Kaszuba
Maybe you need a ride to the doctor’s office but can’t find one. Or your childcare fell through. Or you’re having trouble paying for nutritious food.
Any and all of these factors, which aren’t technically “medical,” can impact your health.
In fact, things like access to basic resources or the condition of your home environment (called “social determinants of health”) play a role in lifespan, birth weights, mental health — and the list goes on.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies five main social determinants of health:
- Access to quality healthcare
- Access to quality education
- Social and community “context,” which includes things like conditions where you work, whether you face discrimination and how involved you are in your community
- Your economic stability
- Your “built environment,” which includes the quality of your housing and the air you breathe, your access to healthy food and your local crime rate
Because all these factors affect your health, Geisinger started screening for social needs in 2021. The optional pre-visit questionnaire asks patients about access to food, transportation, housing and other similar potential challenges to good health.
So far, more than 150,000 people have completed the screening. Of those, 21% asked for help with finding local resources.
Fortunately, support is readily available through neighborlypa.org, Geisinger’s social care platform. Neighborly connects care providers, patients and the general public with more than 16,000 free and reduced-cost programs and services based in Pennsylvania and more than 540,000 nationwide.
If you need help, don’t wait for your next doctor’s appointment. Head straight to Neighborly. And when you do have a scheduled Geisinger visit, take the screening and talk to your care team, too.
Finding the resources and support you need won’t just make your life easier. It could also boost your overall health.
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