“The last time I looked in my textbook, the specific therapy for malnutrition is food.” That response was given by Jack Geiger, who helped create the community health center model in rural Mississippi in the 1960s. He had been challenged for buying food for patients and charging it to his center’s pharmacy budget. His retort became a rallying cry for social needs activists, who loved Geiger’s combination of rebelliousness and common sense.
Nevertheless, in most health care organizations, Geiger’s argument for meeting patients’ social needs has been more rhetoric than reality — that is, until recently. Despite political uncertainty from Washington, health care is moving away from its focus on fee-for-service and toward value, i.e., meeting patients’ needs as efficiently as possible. To do so, many providers are developing systems to detect and meet patients’ unmet needs. ….more