Social determinants of health are the conditions in which someone is born into, grow in, live in, work in, and age in that shape their health across their lifetime. For some, they can act as an obstacle to obtaining quality medical care. Medical professionals across the country are working to find ways to help patients overcome the social determinants that impact their access to care.
What Are the Main Social Determinants of Health?
- Socioeconomic Status
- Physical Environment
- Social Support Networks
- Access to Healthcare
How to Address Them:
1) Price Transparency
Price transparency allows patients to prepare for the cost of their treatment. With increased transparency into the cost of services, providers are encouraged to level the quality and cost of their services compared to other providers. Price transparency also encourages the patient to pay bills.
Telehealth is improving access to care as a social determinant for patients all over the United States by meeting them where they are at. They no longer need to call off of work, leave their home, or stretch themselves thin to make it to appointments with specialists. Telehealth empowers individuals to meet with their providers more regularly, in the form of a video visit, to address the different aspects of their health. This more convenient visit alternative is helping patients everywhere stay more engaged and involved in their medical care, improving outcomes and increasing the level of services they utilize.
3) Chronic Care Management
Chronic Care Management is also increasing access to quality care for thousands of patients across the US who are battling multiple chronic conditions. Chronic illness often leads to treatment from multiple specialists which can be a negative social determinant for many. Trying to keep track of all of the small details that make up their complicated network of care is overwhelming and often leaves patients discouraged, overwhelmed, and with a pile of medical
Eligible patients now have access to care coordination services through physicians offering CCM services at their practice. This helps patients keep track of all the important details that acted as a negative social determinant in the past, and promote a better quality of life and an improved patient experience.
4) Health Practice Technology
More and more providers are coming to the realization that the outcomes of their patients are greatly influenced by these social determinants of health. Some vendors of health practice technology are working to make data surrounding social determinants of health accessible in your Electronic Health Record. While there is a lack of policy surrounding the collection and use of social determinant data, vendors everywhere are ready to move forward so that providers can better understand their community and the obstacles they are facing regarding their medical care.
To make an impact on improving health equity and providing more patient-centered care, it’s necessary to better understand the underlying causes of poor health first. From there, you can focus on concrete ways to address them using technology and other services. To learn more about the ways you can help improve health outcomes, click here.