Driving the Data to Address Social Vulnerabilities in Healthcare
Improving the quality and efficiency is a priority for healthcare, but health is more than just medical care. We are now in an era of integration and (attempted) interoperability, with most providers investing in stronger data collection and sharing efforts. This vast network of data enables physicians to access the patient information they need in order to make well-informed decisions to influence positive clinical outcomes.
But what about the social aspects that impact these clinical decisions and outcomes? Social determinants of health (SDoH) are defined by the
Many clinicians are already conducting social assessments of their patients and would claim they are aware of the social barriers they are facing, especially in the primary care setting. But assessments have limitations. What if we go beyond the assessment process? What if we can use machine learning analytics, geospatial data, and natural language processing to curate this information into a form where it can be used proactively to prescribe social interventions? These efforts would help to:
Standardize data collection efforts for all individuals, not just those that that fill out an assessment
Track changes to social needs and barriers to care over time
Provide population insights to understand strategic direction as it relates to integrated social and clinical care initiatives
With SDoH analytics, we can affect many aspects of our healthcare system, and companies like Base Camp Health are here to make an impact. To implement SDoH effectively, the process needs to be simplified. We need to make it easy for our overworked clinicians, community health workers, and case managers to understand each patient’s social risk and prescribe actionable insights at the appropriate point-of-care. Furthermore, best practices in measuring and monitoring these social interventions is a necessity to propel these efforts forward.
This focus goes beyond the walls of the hospital or the health insurer. It is imperative that all healthcare organizations have a clear understanding of the communities they serve; they need to know the social factors that influence their patients’ or members’ health and empower the health care ecosystem to effectively address possible barriers. The