Many organizations are talking about addressing social determinants of healthcare. The term “social determinants” of health refers to “the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age. This also includes the systems in place to offer health care and services to a community. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics”.
Healthcare organizations are more and more addressing patients’ social needs in addition to their clinical needs to deliver patient-centered care and improve health outcomes.
Technology plays an essential role in all efforts to deliver personalized, cost-effective patient care regardless of social determinants. But not only does it require new IT solutions, a shift in thinking beyond traditional models of care delivery is also needed. According to the new HIMSS report, “2019 Healthcare Trends Forecast: The Beginning of a Consumer-Driven Reformation”, 2019 will be the year social determinants gain greater attention and traditional healthcare alone won’t positively impact the cost curve.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) has just kicked off an innovation challenge to find sustainable scalable IT solutions for eliminating the social determinants that weaken a community’s health “to influence positive cultural change and improve health outcomes, while increasing value and lowering costs.”
So, what do social determinants of health need next?
The priority now is to improve living conditions of populations by innovating and incorporating today’s technologies.
The transition to value-based care and population health programs will require innovative technologies, education and operational strategies from hospitals in addition to re-evaluating what exactly counts as a social determinant of health.
Patient-centered, cost-efficient care definitely includes patient access to digital health tools and digital skills. While patient engagement is essential, data literacy still is a huge problem even with easy access to smartphones, wearables, etc.
According to Baltimore City Health Department CIO Michael Fried “there’s a massive opportunity in population and public health to build apps and innovation that go beyond the physical hospital and that healthcare needs both patient-facing and institution-facing tools to accomplish that.”
To deliver personalized care patients need to be served the way they want to be served. Telling someone during an office visit to take a pill every Wednesday morning is different from letting them know on Wednesday morning that it’s time to take the pill.
Personalized, cost-effective care will require a new approach in collaboration and information sharing. We at PCG can help implement future technologies and practices to improve patient care. Contact our experienced consultants today.