Social Determinants of Health

Many hospitals are addressing social determinants of health to influence population health outcomes. Socioeconomic and environmental factors determine 50 percent of a person's health outcomes. Social determinants are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. This includes housing, food security, public safety, transportation, and economic stability. These factors may limit access to services or make it difficult to obtain health resources.

Specific patient populations and conditions

Population health management involves targeting specific patient populations––such as people with diabetes, maternal health issues, or cancer. Providers collaborate to create specific standardized treatment goals and interventions. Hospitals track specific populations through:

  • Detailed reports from health insurers
  • Patient medical records
  • Nurse care managers
  • Community health workers
  • Social workers 

Chris Espersen, HAP Leadership Summit Speaker 2019

Food Insecurity

The direct connection between food security and proper nutrition, and better health is well-documented. Yet, in Pennsylvania, more than one in ten Pennsylvanians are food insecure.

HAP opposes a proposed federal rule that would drastically reduce Broad-based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The changes would jeopardize food access and adversely affect children, seniors, and people with disabilities. BBCE gives states the flexibility to determine appropriate income thresholds and extend SNAP benefits to low-income families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to afford food. If approved, the change would:

  • Destabilize families by forcing them to choose between putting food on their table or covering child care, rent, or other basic needs
  • Jeopardize free lunches for children who qualify, and programs that provide nutritious meals for children after school and during the summer

In Pennsylvania,

  • Food insecurity is reduced (by one-fifth overall, and one-third for children) when families get SNAP
  • Compared to low-income adults without SNAP, those who participate in SNAP have 25 percent less in health care expenditures
  • Low-income adults who struggle with chronic disease and participate in SNAP have even greater reductions in health care expenditures 

Health Disparities

HAP developed a county-specific map highlighting which counties are above and below the state mean for greater awareness of health disparities.


HAP Contacts

For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, vice president, population health and clinical affairs. For media inquiries, contact Rachel Moore, director, media relations.

HAP News

September 24, 2020

As Flu Season Approaches, HAP, PA Hospitals Encourage Adding a Flu Shot to Virus Protection Measures

The flu season is quickly approaching while the state and nation continues to battle against COVID-19. Though both are caused by different viruses, many of the precautions Pennsylvanians have adopted during COVID-19 also can help protect them from the flu. In addition to handwashing, social distancing, and the use of a face mask, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to add a flu shot to their protection measures.

September 18, 2020

Hospital Employees Encouraged to Register and Vote in November Election

The outcome of this year’s election will be critical to those who work in health care because those who are elected will make important decisions that affect health care as well as Pennsylvania’s hospitals. HAP is supporting the American Hospital Association’s “We Care, We Vote” campaign and is encouraging hospital employees to register to vote and to vote on November 3.

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