A Dallas-based occupational medicine physician who consults with companies on their occupational health programs, Melissa Tonn serves as the president and chief medical officer of OccMD Group, P.A. As part of her work as a Dallas-based medical benefits manager, Melissa Tonn has an interest in studying the impact of social determinants on health.
Non-medical factors, known as social determinants, can have a large impact on people’s health outcomes. For instance, socio-economic status, race, and the environments in which people live, learn, and work have a significant influence on their ability to maintain health. As more policymakers realize that addressing social determinants of health can lead to both improved health outcomes and long-term cost savings, they are adapting some health plans to cover non-medical benefits and starting to move toward a more comprehensive care model.
Currently, nearly 95 percent of healthcare expenditures fund direct medical care, rather than comprehensive programs focused on mitigating the negative impacts of social determinants of health. Researchers estimate that an individual’s social and physical environment make up about 20 percent of their overall health picture, with behavior accounting for another 40-50 percent. Given that health care delivery only impacts health during injury or illness, more attention must be given to the social determinants that impact health on a daily and long-term basis.
An experienced physician, Melissa D. Tonn, MD, specializes in musculoskeletal disorders, workers’ compensation and disability cases, and chronic regional pain syndrome.