top of page
  • Writer's pictureCare Interface

Understanding Social Determinants of Health starts Before Patient visits

The conditions under which people live, learn, work and play— also known as social determinants of health (SDOH)—determine up to 90% of their health outcomes. Approximately one-third of Americans today struggle to meet their basic housing, food and transportation needs, placing them under constant unhealthy stress, according to a June 2019 survey from Kaiser Permanente.

While patients in the survey rated the traditional aspects of healthcare high in importance—access to doctors (92%), ability to pay medical bills (89%), access to prescription medications (87%)—social determinants of health were similarly ranked. Patients rated stable housing (89%), balanced meals (84%), reliable transportation (80%) and supportive social relationships (72%) as crucial to their health and well-being.

The survey also found that most patients wanted their healthcare providers to ask about their social needs. Ninety-seven percent of patients said their providers should ask them about social determinants of health during medical visits.

Leaving these social needs unmet lead to poorer patient health outcomes. Survey participants who reported having an unmet social need experienced physical illness an average of two more days in the previous month than participants without an unmet social need. But the health impacts of those unmet needs go much further. According to a meta-analysis of nearly 50 research studies, social determinants of health accounted for more than one-third of total deaths in the U.S. every year.

How healthcare providers can address patients’ social needs

Despite awareness of how their social needs affect their physical health, 35% of Americans aren’t sure how to address those needs for themselves or their family members. But given patients’ demonstrated interest in discussing SDOH with their doctors, along with their strong trust in their advice, healthcare providers have a unique opportunity to fill that gap

Providers aren’t making the most of this opportunity, however. A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) discovered that only 15.6% of physician practices and approximately 25% of hospitals perform SDOH screenings for all five primary social needs: food insecurity, housing instability, utility needs, transportation needs and interpersonal violence. Most only screen for one SDOH, typically interpersonal violence.

To best address patients’ unmet social needs, clinicians should establish networks and foster relationships with community-based organizations. For example, food insecurity is one of the most common social determinants of health faced by patients. Healthcare organizations and providers can educate patients about affordable food options or even partner with local food banks to support greater access to affordable, nutritious dietary options.

Other community-based organizations, such as senior centers and local social services, can be invaluable in addressing other common social determinants, including housing insecurity, lack of reliable transportation and more.

By asking about SDOH before patient visits and establishing partnerships with community organizations, providers can better support patients in overcoming health barriers, thereby driving improved clinical outcomes.

How Care Interface Enables the process before the Visit? Social and Medical needs keep evolving. Periodically capturing these SDoH factors allows health organizations to meet the needs and have the complete lived experience of an individual in count while reaching out for medical visits.

With the Care Interface platform, your organization can

  • Automate Periodic Automation of SDoH standardized data collection

  • Update the latest data in the database for seamless workflow

  • Flags the most at-risk members based on the real-time SDoH data

  • Real-time alerts to providers and care coordinators about patients’ individual social needs

  • Navigates and connect individuals to resources when those social and health needs are identified

This way, your organization can access the most pressing needs of the individual and meet them in near real-time to address and intervene.

Thereby improving the care outcomes and bridging health equity.

8 views0 comments
bottom of page