Addressing Social Determinants of Health Can Help Create a More Equitable Healthcare System — Peter W. McCauley, Sr.
The CDC defines social determinants of health (SDoH) as the “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.” Increasingly, healthcare providers and insurers are recognizing that identifying the SDoH in the communities they serve can help them proactively improve their patients’ wellbeing.
At the recent Becker’s Payer Issues Roundtable, my fellow panelists and I discussed “Elevating Health Equity: Best Ideas and Strategies”. Based on attendance at the session, SDoH is top of mind for many organizations. Here are a few of the questions posed, along with my answers:
“Investments in SDoH have soared in the last year. Where do you think these investments will have the greatest impact? Is it housing, innovation or something else?”
“SDoH play an important role in contributing to health inequities. That said, in my opinion there is not a single answer here. The greatest impact will vary by community based on:
• The built environment of the community (transportation, education, housing, infrastructure);
• The existing resources located within the community; and
• The areas of greatest need in the community.”
“What role does data play in efforts to achieve greater health equity among populations?”
“Using advanced analytics and a data-driven approach, we can identify specific populations negatively impacted by SDoH, and the role SDoH play in driving health inequity. We can use internal data to identify people who are at increased risk for poor health and health care utilization, based on where they live, and who might need personalized solutions to achieve better health and affordability. This data can then be leveraged in several ways, such as to inform pilot design and prioritization, solution enhancements, and new solution development.”
“Efforts made to reverse certain health disparities today may not bear fruit for years, decades, maybe even generations. How do you think about maintaining these efforts over the long-term while also achieving short-term wins?”
“Primary care providers should be encouraged to conduct SDoH screenings for customers and offer referrals to address unmet social needs. Those providers who identify areas of health disparities among their patient population and develop a detailed plan to address these gaps can then be rewarded for their efforts as an incentive to continue to do so.
“Can each of you share some closing thoughts with our audience?”
“I think that Health insurers are in a unique position to address health equity broadly throughout the healthcare ecosystem. By leveraging data to identify disparities early, and partnering with key stakeholders (like employers, providers and community-based organizations), we can effectively move the needle closer to health equity.”
Peter W. McCauley, Sr. has a 30 year track record of profitable, inclusive health care leadership. He is a well-respected, actively practicing pediatrician serving Chicago’s far south side for over 24 years. His expertise in value-based health care, combined with the ability to lead and influence provider groups and hospital systems to adopt this reimbursement model vs. standard fee for service, helps to improve quality outcomes for patients while making health care more affordable for all.
Peter W. McCauley Sr. — Extraordinarily Courageous Communicator
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