By Robin Stawasz

It seems to be a well-accepted conclusion that clinical outcomes depend a great deal on factors other than the medical care provided. Studies bear this out, our experiences with those we have cared for bear this out, and our own lives bear this out. Unfortunately, we still seem to think of social drivers of care as something that happens to just a certain group of people, often those who are disadvantaged or underserved. However, until we realize that integrating social care into of the care that we provide ALL patients ALL the time we will never realize true clinical success. 

How do we achieve this integration? Work by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which pulled together social workers, nurses, and physicians, laid out a helpful classification of the “5As” of integration. Those included:

  • Awareness – identifying patients’ and populations’ social risks, needs, and assets
  • Adjustment – reshaping clinical care to accommodate and respond to social needs
  • Assistance – connecting patients to relevant social care resources
  • Alignment – investing in and organizing social care resources to better meet social needs
  • Advocacy – advancing policies that create and assign resources to address social needs and minimize social risk factors

We can achieve all that is on this list. We can start by utilizing social assessments. There are powerful tools already available, such as CMS’ Social Needs Screening Tool and the PRAPARE toolkit. If we build this type of tool into our standard of care, we can start to measure areas of need and standardize social care workflows. We can then better utilize non-medical skill sets, both internally and externally. This will not only lighten the load on medical providers, but also realize better clinical and financial outcomes. And then we have already achieved the first three “As” on that list.

If you would like to talk more about ways to integrate Social Care, Acclivity is here for you – please contact us.

Source Material: “Addressing Health Disparities: Using the 5 As to Integrate Social Care into Healthcare” by Christian Green posted by Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) on March 17, 2022 

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