Housing is the best Medicine: Supportive Housing and the Social Determinants of Health
Every day doctors in America provide treatment to some of our sickest patients who live in shelters, institutional settings or
unsafe housing. These patients often lack access to basic needs like transportation, nutritious food, heat, a steady income
and social supports. Medicine and medical interventions alone will never resolve the complexity of issues that these patients
face. Most will return to the clinic or hospital, again and again, with more serious and expensive problems. This reality is
not lost on our strained health systems or physicians. However, until very recently, providers lacked the organizational
framework, capacity and incentives to address the underlying causes of patients’ poor health. With the recent
implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the rise of Accountable Care Organizations and the general shift towards
more integrated and holistic models of care, the health system is broadening their practices and investments outside the
clinical setting to change the tide of health and health care costs in this country.
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