Social determinants: Changing our view of the patient

When Dr. David Buck developed clinics for Houston’s indigent population in the mid-1980s, he learned first hand that his patients needed social and behavioral supports outside of traditional medicine. Three decades later, Buck and technologist Kallol Mahata founded the Patient Care Intervention Center (PCIC), which incorporates social determinants in coordinating care for Houston’s most vulnerable populations.

Buck and Mahata developed a technology platform that integrates social data—from jails, shelters, food banks and other community service organizations—with medical data to provide a holistic view of the patient. Always based on the patient’s values and health goals, their work has resulted in a savings of over $5 million and a reduction in ER visits by 54 percent.

Can you imagine seeing a patient for a first visit and knowing all their utilization information - if they had made multiple visits to a food pantry, or stayed at a homeless shelter or accessed mental health services? Would you look at the patient differently? Would you make sure their needs are part of your care plan?
— David Buck, MD, MPH, Founder and CEO, and Kallol Mahata, MS, Co-Founder and COO, Patient Care Intervention Center