Can the Hunger Vital Sign™ act as a prescreen for other social needs?

Over the past decade, the health care community has demonstrated growing interest in and commitment to addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) and patients’ social needs – the midstream manifestations of the impact of SDOH1 – in clinical settings. Four out of 5 US hospitals demonstrate leadership commitment to systematically address social needs as part of clinical care.2 Extensive literature documents the strong relationship between unmet social needs and costly poor health outcomes, including chronic disease, emergency health care utilization, and poor disease management.3,4 Often driven by a lack of financial resources, unmet social needs are interrelated and may be experienced simultaneously, compounding the health risk posed to children and their families.5,6 In response, movement toward value-based payments is motivating providers and payers to invest in screening for and addressing multiple unmet social needs, such as food insecurity and housing instability, among others. 7