Panel to look at the economics of health disparities

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Rebecca Morley

Jay Bhatt, D.O.

Much attention has focused lately on health care costs – from insurance premiums and the reform efforts to drug prices – but what about other efforts to address the cost curve by improving health in other ways? That’s the subject of one panel at AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2017 conference this month.

The panel, “Bending the cost curve: The social determinants of health,” will examine how addressing social determinants – such as income, access, education and social support – can help improve people’s health. We’ll discuss how circumstances shape population health, and the impact of behavior on wellness, disease risk and death.

Panelists will also focus on the role of health systems in influencing such nonmedical factors, with examples of successes as well as struggles in caring for patients and moving the needle on patient outcomes and costs.

Speakers on the panel, scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, include American Hospital Association Chief Medical Officer Jay Bhatt, D.O., and The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Rebecca Morley.

Morley directs the Health Impact Project, a joint effort between Pew and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at promoting the use of health impact assessments in health care policy decisions. Morley also brings experience in two particular social determinants of health – housing and the environment – having led a national nonprofit housing organization and worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and helped shape environmental health laws in the U.S. Senate.

Bhatt, who practices at Erie Family Health Center, also brings a multidisciplinary approach to his work having trained as an osteopath as well as earning three other degrees in economics, public health and government.

He got his first glimpse at the difficult struggles patients face outside of basic medical care when grew up watching his pharmacist father serve patients on Chicago’s South Side, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, which recently named him one of their “40 under 40.” With a passion for data, Bhatt has also worked with large health care systems at the Illinois Hospital Association and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

For those seeking new angles on the reshaping of U.S. health care, this panel will deliver a fresh look at the debate over costs, and hopefully, some new story ideas. Be sure to join us and participate with the hashtags #AHCJ17 #SDOH #AHCJSDOH

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