Assess Health-Related Social Needs
Correct diagnoses and treatment plans may not be safe and effective if patients cannot afford their medications, do not have a place to live, lack transportation to get to appointments, or have adverse drug reactions because they cannot afford food. Health care organizations should work to understand these needs to provide optimal care.
Reducing health care disparities for the organization’s patients is a quality and safety priority.
The organization assesses the patient’s health-related social needs and provides information about community resources and support services.
Organizations determine which health-related social needs to include in the patient assessment. Examples of a patient’s health-related social needs may include the following:
- Access to transportation
- Difficulty paying for prescriptions or medical bills
- Education and literacy
- Food insecurity
- Housing insecurity
Health-related social needs may be identified for a representative sample of the organization’s patients or for all the organization’s patients.
Some terms used in the requirements will vary by accreditation program. For example, the behavioral health care and human services program uses the term "individual served" as opposed to "patient" that is used in hospital and ambulatory settings.
Learn from Other Organizations
Click on the Snapshots and Soundbites icons to learn how other organizations are assessing for health-related social needs. Read about an organization that began their work by asking only three screening questions related to food insecurity, transportation, and the ability to afford medications.
Preview of Resources
Do you need help finding a standardized screening tool, a screening tool for Spanish-speaking patients, or a tool that uses scoring to indicate a positive response to a social need? Click the Strategies tab to access the resources we identified to support your efforts. Patients may find these questions embarrassing, so training staff is essential. We have included resources if your organization needs to help staff develop skills for engaging in sensitive conversations with patients.