The Crucial Role of ADoH in Whole Person Health and Value-Based Care

In today’s healthcare landscape, stakeholders are acutely aware of the pressing need to bolster the value proposition for patients. At its core, value-based healthcare is simply the quality of care against its associated costs. However, this equation, seemingly straightforward, has eluded the U.S. healthcare system. Presently, the U.S. healthcare system is currently at a crossroads. On one hand, it ranks as one of the most expensive globally, with costs approximately twice as high as its peers in economically advanced nations. On the other, its clinical outcomes often trail those of countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This incongruity naturally prompts a pivotal question:

The impediments are multifaceted. Still, a recurrent oversight is the lack of emphasis on Affective Determinants of Health (ADoHs). Historically, the healthcare paradigm has functioned with compartmentalized views – categorizing mental health in one silo and physical well-being in another. Such bifurcation might have stemmed from the belief that the mind and body operated in isolation. However, recent research underscores the inextricable link between mental and physical health.

Contemporary studies indicate that mental health conditions can manifest physical symptoms and vice-versa. For instance, chronic stress, an affective determinant, can lead to cardiovascular issues, digestive problems, or weakened immune systems. Conversely, chronic physical conditions can give rise to depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. 

It doesn’t stop there. In our article on ADoH, you can see how this relationship manifests across various affective states (i.e. depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, pain, irritability, fatigue, malaise, etc.).

The Influence of ADoHs on Social Determinants of Health (SDoHs)

ADoHs are established as intricately influential to Social Determinants of Health (SDoHs). The nuanced relationship between these determinants underlines how mental and emotional factors can shape the socio-economic and environmental conditions in which people live, work, and age. This intricate interplay can sometimes magnify health disparities. 

Consider the situation of homelessness: According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 60% of people who are chronically homeless have experienced lifetime mental health problems, a rate substantially higher than that of the general population. Ignoring or inadequately addressing the interplay between these determinants not only compromises the immediate health of individuals but also deepens the negative cycle experienced by patients.

While the health implications of not addressing determinants like ADoHs are evident, the financial repercussions can be just as dire. As healthcare moves progressively towards value-based care, integrating cost considerations becomes paramount. Why? Because addressing these determinants efficiently can circumvent more expensive interventions down the line. 

A system mired in inefficiencies and wasteful practices will only escalate costs without necessarily delivering better outcomes. Take, for instance, the challenge of managing diabetes in a patient with untreated depression. Not only does the untreated mental condition pose a barrier to effective diabetes management, but persisting with such a narrow treatment approach can also lead to higher cost due to  increased hospital visits, medications, and other costly interventions.

The Bottom Line

The path to realizing true value-based care necessitates an integrated focus on ADoHs. As we grapple with the economic strain on our healthcare system, it’s evident that perpetuating a model delivering diminished value — characterized by disproportionate costs relative to outcomes — is no longer viable.

The future calls for a strategic transition to comprehensive, patient-centric models. These models, grounded in the understanding that mental and physical health are intrinsically connected, are not merely ideal but indispensable. By embracing such a holistic framework, we can significantly enhance the value proposition of healthcare, ultimately leading to improved patient experiences and broader societal benefits.