Understanding social determinants of health to enhance patient-centered care

Female physician with coupleWhen we keep digging into why patients are unhealthy, we can uncover barriers and begin fixing what is causing poor health. A model structured around patient-centered care focuses on building mutually beneficial healthcare relationships between the family, patient, and medical providers. But, every relationship takes time to grow. When we slow down care and ask the right questions, we can reveal the root causes of health.

Longer appointment times and guided health coaching allows clinicians to dig into the social determinants of health to help patients understand their complete health picture. Quality, patient-centered care takes time and intention, and your worksite health center is the ideal place to support and encourage your employees to achieve their health goals.

More time, better care

Trends in healthcare are shifting to recognize that health is more than a collection of genetic and behavioral risk factors. Healthcare providers must look beyond the doctor’s office to complete our health picture. As discussed in our earlier blog, the social determinants of health – housing, employment, education, and more – impact our overall health. Onsite healthcare providers understand the value of weaving the social determinants into their care and employers play an important role in connecting this care to their workforce.

Longer appointment times – typically 30 minutes – are necessary for providers to build meaningful relationships with their patients. Whether your employees go to the worksite health center for a sick visit or chronic condition coaching, longer appointments allow healthcare providers to connect with patients to develop realistic, actionable health plans that fit their lifestyle.

“My onsite healthcare provider was very patient and listened to my health and financial concerns. She found a way for me to obtain my insulin at an affordable price and is now working with me and my primary care provider to manage my health. I no longer have to worry about another healthcare bill to weigh down my finances. This gives me peace of mind and I feel free to go to the doctor without fear of the cost. As a result, my health has changed dramatically and I am now able to administer my insulin regularly. I’m managing my condition so I can be healthy for myself and for my family.”Martha, winner of Healthy Like Me, Marathon Health’s patient success program

Health coaching

Helping your employees become more engaged in their own health leads to lasting health improvement. Health coaching can support your employees through weight loss, smoking cessation, stress, illness, and chronic conditions. By offering manageable tips and guidance, your onsite healthcare provider helps your employees stay on track and achieve their goals.

“After my diagnosis, I went to my employer’s onsite health center and met with the health coach. She encouraged me to stabilize my mental health first and supported me throughout the process. She explained healthy food choices and laid out a step-by-step guideline that gave me recipes and food suggestions. Her encouragement motivated me to maintain my healthy habits and lose more weight.”Angela, winner of Healthy Like Me, Marathon Health’s patient success program

At Marathon Health, our health coaching methodology uses motivational interviewing, appreciative inquiry, and mindfulness techniques. Rather than healthcare providers telling patients what to do, motivational interviewing is a collaborative process and uses shared decision-making to ensure healthcare decisions align with the patient’s values, preferences, and goals. Weaving the social determinants into healthcare blends clinical data with external health influencers to better understand a patient’s health.

Changing healthcare to improve health

Marathon Health’s approach to healthcare goes back to our earliest driving principle – we must empower patients to take control so they understand their health, develop new behaviors, and make a plan for long-term health improvement. Longer appointments and more time with patients combined with our coaching methods are the key ingredients to helping patients improve their health.

To read real health transformation stories from weight loss to cancer recovery, check out Healthy Like Me, Marathon Health’s patient success program.

Topics: worksite healthcare, care, social determinants