Race, gender, socioeconomic status have been known to affect a person’s health, access to care, costs incurred, and the outcomes. The defining conditions of how we live, learn, work, and play not only influences our health but goes on to define and impact an entire community’s health.
However, social structures and the surrounding environmental conditions, right from a person’s ethnicity to their work can impact key areas that can result in unequal care delivery. As healthcare moves towards targeted, value-based care delivery, it’s important for providers to understand social determinants and gain momentum into designing critical parts of care delivery.
The Five Denominations of Social Determinants
The social determinants of health (SDOH) shape and affect the distribution of ethnicity, money, power, and resources. SDOH can be grouped into five major groups:
In a nutshell, the social determinants of health have a major accountability in an individual’s ability to understand the importance of healthcare. It directly connects to the availability and access to care and enhancing their health.
The Challenges in SDOH
U.S. spends the most on healthcare and still experiences a lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates than countries as developed as the U.S. There are some strategic challenges with SDOH providers frequently face:
Why do we need to focus on Social Determinants?
Social Determinants have been ignored by many for reasons questioning their capability to produce a substantial effect on the clinical outcomes. In the past, it has been proven that by incorporating the social determinants of health in care framework can help in understanding the complete picture. They help in figuring out major causes behind why a specific set of the population is becoming ill initially, and, moreover, could play a handy role in restoring their health. With social determinants, it becomes easier to recognize the value of economic conditions and demography are as essential to staying healthy.
Preventive care could be an important piece in solving the big puzzle of healthcare. A value-focused organization in Minnesota began enrolling patients in its Social Determinants program. The aim was to increase the preventive care and to reduce preventable hospital admissions, and emergency department (ED) visits for vulnerable patients. The organization used various care coordination model to meet patients’ physical, behavioral, social, and economic needs. Within one year of the implementation of the program, ED visits were decreased by 9.1% and outpatient visits increased by 3.3%. Therefore, it goes without saying that addressing just the symptoms of diseases and ignoring its root cause will not improve population health in a longer term.
Leveraging Big Data to Manage Population Health
Managing and countering social determinants of population health is critical to improving health outcomes, bridging care gaps, and reducing costs. Healthcare has long focused on using big data to deliver outcomes and with a rapid transition. To bring value-based care underway, harnessing data sources to collect physical, behavioral, and socioeconomic health information has become critically important. Here’s how health IT and big data can help providers determine the impact of social determinants:
A healthcare organization based in Minneapolis focused its efforts to improve physical, behavioral, and socioeconomic aspects of care using health IT. Their efforts have resulted in a reduction in ER visits, increased attention to preventive care, and improvements in overall population levels. They also managed to save $2.44 million within two years!
The Road Ahead
It wasn’t until we had the technological prowess to deal with the increasing population, we found innovative solutions to deliver better clinical outcomes. Today, from where we are, we can not only predict the cause of a disease but also who is it going to affect! Healthcare is changing rapidly, and we need to be future-ready to create impact at scale. Social Determinants have proven to be a major stepping stone for preventive care and improvising on it could really mean a big win for everyone.
For more updates , Subscribe
If you want to see our efforts in the area of Social Determinants, schedule a quick demo.
Join us at NAACOS Spring Conference 2017 Booth #35.