Addressing Social Determinants of Health & The Role of Healthcare IT
Society is fabricated chiefly through the eyes of the elite. Social determinants take their stand through overly populated environments that are shabby and unfit by definition with what is dictated by the ones in charge as the appropriate quality of life.
When we trace back to the root of any seasonal or situational epidemic, many times, the aggravated condition is partly due to faulty and, in fact, dirty living conditions.
The affected are purely ruled into the group as part of being residents of the apartment block called “poor living.”
When you trace back to the causes of the causes of illness, in so many cases, you see how our social fabric itself is in need of mending. ~ Dave A. Chokshi, The 43rd health commissioner of New York City.
David — A Story
It is the 80s. David belongs to the tradesy part of town. People here in the suburbs are expected to grow a certain way when they are born — either they take up the trades of their fathers or, with hopes of a better, brighter future, move into the big flashy city.
David’s father has been the rugged good old carpenter all his life. And with the best carpentry shop in town, it is only natural for David to pick up his father’s skills. After all, he is destined to inherit it someday.
But readymade plans are never spoil-proof. As a pie charcoals down in the kitchen oven when left a bit too long, David’s plans to take over his father’s business post-high school dwindled. Blame it on fate or the cranky group of mobile adults settled right on the outskirts of town.
And as bees attracted to honey, “Molly” ushered David in like the force of gravity, something he had learned during science class. Molly worked a special way. It would hit every 15 minutes, bringing in waves of warmth from the pit of his stomach, to finally release the knot and rush in the sense of fulfillment. “Men live their entire lives hoping to be filled to the brim.” With Molly, every day was filling and happy.
The woodworking shop now felt like a weak dream. Molly was a keeper, and so was the druggie group.
But overdose is a killer, confined David to his deathbed — panting, shouting, demanding more.
The Underlying Cause — Social Determinants
Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), as per WHO’s definition, are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.
Studies suggest that SDOH impacts 80% of health outcomes from acute to chronic disorders.
Stakeholders of the care industry are convinced that transparency over this silent factor profoundly impacts an individual’s well-being.
Healthy People: The US SDOH Stand
The US government combats disparities created due to social determinants through various initiatives such as Healthy People, released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) every decade.
The 2030 initiative addresses this disparity by promising to “Create social, physical, and economic environments that promote attaining the full potential for health and well-being for all.”
The intersection of Determinants with Modern IT
US healthcare system’s complexity ushers in challenges to adequately address social determinants.
However, people who have witnessed the transition of traditional space into an IT whirlwind can declare that faster, more efficient, and better quality care delivery are not some far-fetched futuristic goals.
Healthcare IT can play a remarkable role in helping bridge the very gap to care equity — the gap between healthcare providers and the complex web of social factors influencing patient well-being.
When social determinants are involved in the fight for better health outcomes, care providers can proactively address the underlying factors that impact the health of a population. Predictive analysis kicks in to help avert emergencies, identify if populations are at-risk, and design targeted interventions.
Integrating wearable devices and remote monitoring play pivotal roles when it comes to monitoring health at an individual level.
Real-time data on vital signs and lifestyle factors, enable early intervention and personalized care for patients.
Deeper Dive into David’s Story
The simple usage of electronic health records isn’t fulfilling enough to curb the problem at its roots. Socio-economic data, geospatial mapping of populations, and analytics identify potholes in administration and biased distribution of care delivery.
Studies reveal that earlier, in areas riddled with drug overdose complexities, care delivery used to be at the mercy of the area’s population density or urbanization level. This diluted the rendering of immediate help as required for overdose cases.
In the case of David, he might have been saved with timely intervention if SDOH had been factorized into the discussions of care distribution.
Now, in the present day and age, the US government has under its belt geographical location as an SDOH of drug use.
Overlaying geospatial information with IT facilitates strategically placing healthcare facilities, mobile clinics, and telehealth hubs, ensuring equitable access to quality care for suburban communities like David’s.
To Think About
Healthcare IT has the potential to redefine healthcare delivery, and SDOH has a special role to play: unique perspectives and better prospecting scenarios. The need for managing SDOH has boosted the growth of a potential market.
Statistics indicate that the US SDOH market, estimated at $8.54 bn in 2022, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.9% to $43.98 bn in 2030, a major portion being overlapped with healthcare IT. ~Data Bridge Market Research
The SDOH healthcare front has the potential to bridge gaps and, regardless of socio-economic background, make quality care accessible to all.